Journalism

Oprah Interview Makes History for ‘CBS This Morning’

©Leonard Zhukovsky/123RF

Oprah Winfrey’s chat with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry went down as a ratings blockbuster. But the Oprah interview accomplished a surprise for CBS’s morning show.

Did you watch the Oprah interview Sunday night of the royal couple? When Oprah Winfrey asks questions, people apparently want to hear the answers. That’s especially true when her subject happens to be members of the Royal family.

In my time in the news business — which I lovingly refer to as my “real job” — people have often asked why we cover some stories. Others aren’t always so polite about it. They’ll say, in response to a story like this, “Nobody cares.”

Well, folks, people care.

Sunday night’s interview brought in 17 million viewers to CBS. If you look at the previous Sunday night, you’ll find CBS lured 6.5 million. That means Oprah and the Royals (which sounds like a musical group) delivered nearly three times the ratings!

During the interview, Markle claimed the family refused to make their son, Archie, a prince or to offer him security protection.

Even more disturbing, she claimed someone in the family raised concern about what Archie’s skin color might be.

Honestly, I had forgotten that Markle is biracial. But if her account is true, that fact remained on the mind of someone in the family.

Neither Markle nor Harry would identify the person. But Harry did rule out it being either Queen Elizabeth or her husband, Prince Philip.

The interview aired as a two-hour event on CBS. Despite the two-hour program, some clips didn’t make the final cut.

Winfrey promised to reveal additional clips the following morning on CBS This Morning.

Then came the surprise.

While CBS’s 60 Minutes remains a huge ratings blockbuster, the network failed to build a strong morning audience. In fact, an old joke says CBS hasn’t had success in the mornings since it took Captain Kangaroo off the air. Those of a certain age will fondly recall the children’s program, which ran from the 1950s until the network canceled it in 1984.

But that historic failure in morning ratings came to an abrupt end Monday morning.

Clips from the Oprah interview — and an appearance by Oprah herself — accomplished a first! CBS This Morning beat both Today and Good Morning America.

The always-third place news program won in both total viewers and the demo (a measure of people 25-54, the age range advertisers covet most).

That, friends, never happened before. That should tell us all something, whether we want to admit it or not.

I understand the curiosity about the Royal family. I have never fully been able to understand the obsession with it. But we’d be foolish to argue that the obsession doesn’t exist.

I only watched the last 45 minutes or so of it. I wasn’t interested enough to tune in from the start. And I figured if I were going to watch only a portion, they’d probably save the best material for the second hour.

Apparently, I wound up being extremely late to that party!

Yes, that Royal obsession clearly exists. And it drove a last-place morning show to the top of the heap in one single day.

So the next time you’re tempted to shake your head and scoff at stories like this, remind yourself of one key fact. Just because you don’t care doesn’t mean others don’t.

Did you watch any part of the Oprah interview? Were you surprised by what you heard?

1 Comment

  1. I viewed only the first hour of it. We always watch the CBS show, “60 Minutes”, but because of the half of year football airs, we schedule “60 Minutes” starting at 19:00, but then have it cease recording at 21:00, to allow for the idiocy of the football season to go wrong and into overtime.

    I don’t know what the second half brought, other than a very angry Prince Harry staunchly defending his grandmother and grandfather’s lack of involvement in the racist comments, which was an eye-opener for us…that ANYone in the firmament would even think it, let alone say such drivel!

    That whole “feud” between Kate and Meagan, to me, has the feel of news people, who seem to be lacking in any soul, actually has a heavily conjured aspect to it. It could be there, I suppose, but these are people that need not spend any time together, except at family gatherings, and could just keep their few appearances cordial, then head off to their separate castles. Does there need to be “bad blood” between them? Is there any? The article regarding Kate making Meagan cry read exactly as that in the United States…why did it not read accurately in the United Kingdom’s papers? Who knows?

    It is obvious we do care. I like the royal family, especially the Queen, who has not become a person she was never meant to be, but has made the effort to modernise.

    Certainly, she finally got onboard that Prince Charles and Princess Diana could not, whatever the reasons, keep all their acrimony out of their relationship. Prince Charles is married to the woman he should have married in the mid-1970s. They look very, very happy, indeed.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.