This year, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl drew a total audience of 96.4 million viewers. However, according to some analysts and royal experts, many are anticipating Winfrey’s highly anticipated sit-down with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to be an even bigger ratings draw due to its potential ability to expose the royal family in a way that’s never been done before.
According to a report from The Sunday Times, the event is to royals watchers what the big game in February was to football fans. While there’s keen interest in the United States, the interest in the U.K., where the interview will broadcast a day later on ITV, is reportedly on track to exceed 10 million viewers, beating the finale of “The Masked Singer,” which recently drew the biggest live TV audience of the year.
“I think people believe that this will be the first time they are hearing from Meghan and Harry as themselves and not in a certain role where they need to be given speaking points or what not,” Myka Meier, a royal analyst told the outlet. “America loves Oprah and people know that Oprah’s going to get in there and she’s going to ask them probably some rather uncomfortable questions. Everybody’s just on the edge of their seat wondering how this will play out.”
The poet laureate for the city of Santa Barbara, where Meghan and Harry now live, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, echoed similar sentiments about the excitement for an allegedly unencumbered Meghan and Harry to share their thoughts in the interview.
“In the little local newspapers and things like that is: finally, we are going to have the truth. We are finally going to learn what this is really about because we know ‘the Firm’ has been manipulating this whole story,” she said.
Referring to a recent clip in which Markle noted that harm has been done to her by the royal family, Bosselaar added: “When [the duchess] says a lot of harm has been done, she says it in a quite sensational way. But it’s completely believable, just as when Diana said there is three of us in this marriage.”
She also noted that she hopes the viewership will exceed the Super Bowl and noted that interest in the interview is already topping buzz around popular entertainment award shows such as the Oscars and the Golden Globes. The question now is whether that will carry over to an American audience as well as whether projections for the broadcast of the interview in the U.K. will meet expectations.
The sit-down with America’s queen of celebrity interviews is a chance for the couple to explain what led them to quit royal life, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. A book about their departure, "Finding Freedom," also alleges that senior royals had little respect for Meghan, a biracial former actor and that courtiers treated her badly.
Pre-released clips have already shown Prince Harry talking about his fears that history would repeat itself after his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash while pursued by paparazzi. In another clip from the interview, Winfrey asks Markle how she feels about the palace "hearing you speak your truth today?"
"I don’t know how they could expect that, after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us," the duchess replies.
"The firm" is a nickname for the royal family, sometimes used with affection and sometimes with a note of criticism.
In another pre-released clip, Markle told Winfrey how "liberating" it was to have a conversation with the television host without the input of royal minders.
Royal interviews that aren't tied to a specific topic are rare, and prior televised sessions have often proved problematic. Prince Andrew’s 2019 BBC interview about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein led to his own departure from royal duties after he failed to show empathy for Epstein’s victims.
Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal duties began in March 2020 over what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess, who is biracial.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.