Prince Harry & Meghan’s wedding got more American viewers than the Oscars

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leaving George's Chapel after the Royal Wedding in Windsor

I think CB and I surprised ourselves by how much we were looking forward to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. At the end of the day, they actually scheduled it perfectly – almost two weeks after the Met Gala, so we could rest, and during the most boring Cannes Film Festival in recent memory. It would have been exciting enough as is, but the week leading up to the wedding was full of so much tabloid drama with the rogue Markle family members and what turned out to be an outpouring of sympathy for Meghan. All of that added to the anticipation for the main event, honestly, like the Markles’s utter trashiness was actually some kind of grassroots publicity campaign.

Anyway, my point is that there was already a lot of interest in Meg and Harry’s wedding here in America – Meghan was going to be the first American to marry a major British royal since Wallis Simpson did it. Meghan was going to be the first American actress to marry a royal since Grace Kelly, for goodness sake. So of course there was interest here in America. But would people actually get up at the ass-crack of dawn on a Saturday to watch an American girl become a duchess? As it turns out, yes, we would.

It was very early in the morning on this side of the Atlantic but 29.2 million Americans tuned in to watch live the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Seen on 15 networks stateside in the early morning, Saturday’s royal nuptials with the American born bride from St. George’s Chapel was up solidly from the 23 million who watched televised ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton back in 2011, according to Nielsen. That April royal wedding seven years ago was aired on 11 networks.

The metric from the ratings company for yesterday’s gilded gathering covers the 7 – 8:15 AM ET ceremony from the UK on ABC (inclusive of Freeform simulcast), BBC America, CBS, CNN, CNNe, E!, Fox News Channel, HLN, MSNBC, NBC, PBS, Telemundo, TLC and Univision. In household numbers, Harry and Meghan drew 23.7 million to William and Kate’s 18.6 million. The newly minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex hit 6.9 million interactions overall across Facebook and Twitter on social media, which is pretty good early Saturday morning by any standards.

On NBC, ABC, and CBS the event pulled 17.6 million viewers between 6 and 9 AM EST. With 6.4 million viewers, the Comcast-owned network edged out the Disney-owned network’s audience of 6.34 million to win the monarchist morning with the former Suits co-star. Among cable news networks, Fox News Channel came out on top with 2.036 million watching the Murdoch-owned outlet’s coverage. On the broadcast nets alone, yesterday’s wedding between Harry and Meghan outpaced the Prince’s parents’ wedding back in 1981. Just over 17 million people saw Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana wed on the big four network in the era before cable.

[From Deadline]

The number comparisons for Meg & Harry’s wedding versus William and Kate’s wedding are… fascinating. The biggest difference is that Will & Kate got married on a Friday, and I doubt many Americans wanted to skip work to watch their wedding or get up early on a Friday, whatever. The genius of Meg and Harry’s Saturday wedding was that it fell on that fallow gossip period where most royal-watchers and gossips were like, “yeah, I don’t have anything else to do, I’ll get up early on a Saturday to see an American girl marry a prince!” Plus, back in 2011, during Will & Kate’s wedding, it really didn’t feel like such a big social-media moment. Twitter was LIT on Saturday. It was a huge deal on social-media platforms, whereas those platforms weren’t really being used to create huge pop-culture moments in 2011 (or maybe I’m forgetting what it was like, I really don’t know).

For comparison… this year’s Oscars only got 26.5 million viewers. Like three million more people would rather watch a royal wedding at the crack of dawn than stay up and watch the Oscars. That doesn’t bode well for the Oscars. If only Meghan and Harry had decided to get married live at the Oscars…

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave Windsor Castle as a married couple

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the 'Long Walk'

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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108 Responses to “Prince Harry & Meghan’s wedding got more American viewers than the Oscars”

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  1. Slowsnow says:

    I am very happy for these two bc they seem like the real deal. The British monarchy welcoming a black woman is a big deal.
    But I am sad about the perpetuation of the princess / marriage ideal. One more generation… when clearly SHE was the knight in shining armor.

    • Enny says:

      Oy, but you know Kate’s tearing out her wiglets over this news! Like, why does SHE WHO MARRIED THE SPARE get more love, more attention, more viewers?

      • Akua says:

        Really, her wedding was 7years ago….and she is not American, are you saying Diana is also worried that her son wedding was popular

      • Tulip Garden says:

        Well two negative stereotypes now covered:
        1. Marry Prince Charming (biggest accompishment)

        2. Two women within 10 get off each other (mentally or physically) must commence competition with pulling off hair (yours and theirs)

        What a hopeful new day.

        /s

      • Enny says:

        Marrying Prince Charming is, objectively, Kate’s biggest accomplishment. She put in the time, the least we can do is acknowledge her effort.

        And it was a joke. Lighten up. No, I mean it. What has Celebitchy become if you can no longer joke about waitying wiglets??

        Come on. 🙄

      • Enny says:

        @akua no, Diana would be happy for her son. It’s not about the time that has elapsed, or their respective nationalities. I think there was a great deal of worldwide excitement about H&M AS A COUPLE that was not, does not, will not ever be felt for W&K – and they know it, and I think it bothers them a little. That’s not a knock on them as people or future monarchs, just an observation. And yes, I think Kate is likely having a hard time adjusting to this new reality, she’s human.

      • whatever1 says:

        If you look at UK viewing figures (posted down below) it seems that far more people watched W & K wedding than H & M’s this despite W & K wedding being held on a weekday.

        If Kate really cares about viewing figures (which I highly doubt) she will be pretty pleased with that.

      • Enny says:

        @carolemiddleton The British people got a bank holiday for W&K’s wedding, so it wasn’t really a “weekday.” So that figure isn’t all that surprising.

        Honestly, they were both beautiful weddings. And it’s true that it’s not a competition. The question is, do you believe that KATE does not feel competitive toward MEGHAN? The woman ran an all-out marathon to bag a prince. She put her life on hold to ensure that she could always position herself at the front of the line for william’s affections. She outlasted the competition. I’m not really going out on a limb here, but yeah, I’d say Kate feels like she is in competition with Meghan. She may be the most competitive woman I’ve ever seen in action – and that’s not an insult, by the way. In some ways it’s admirable, if channeled toward the right things…

      • KBB says:

        Did Harry’s wedding get more viewers than William’s in the UK? I doubt Kate cares if it’s just in the US that more people watched. It was a bank holiday and a Saturday so the numbers should be similar or at least fairly show which was more popular.

        Did they count people streaming it in the US in those numbers? I watched it live on YouTube on my iPad in bed, I’m sure I’m not the only one. And with primetime shows they have ratings that include people watching it on their DVRs shortly after. I’ve watched the recording of it like 3 times lol

      • whatever1 says:

        @DoriaRagland

        Not every company in the UK allows you to take time off for a Bank Holiday. So in a way, bank holiday’s are just like a Saturday – some people work and some people don’t.

      • Enny says:

        @kbb I was wondering about the streaming numbers, too. It doesn’t seem like they were counted in the totals from what I’ve read, but not sure.

        @whateveryournameis Doria’s the bomb, thank you!! 😊

      • Lexa says:

        More American viewers, at least. The initial UK numbers I saw had H+M way below W+K and even the Yorks. That makes sense as W+K are in direct line to the throne, obviously, but I doubt Kate is crying into her tea over the American numbers…

      • BSeve Up says:

        That seems unlikely, and you seem obsessed.

      • Guest says:

        Will and Kate had more viewers where it actually counts.. Great Britain. Harry’s numbers for the UK were surprisingly low. Meghan is American so there was always going to be a huge interest from across the pond. FB was bigger in 2011, and I remember there being a big hoopla on it back then.

      • citney says:

        @Emmy

        Why should Kate care, she will be QUEEN one day, MM will be the next Fergie.

    • Cara says:

      I agree with the stereotype part. I don’t get why it is considered an accomplishment or a great thing for Meghan to marry into this bunch. Already, I am reading that she will represent and say what the Firm wants her to represent and say. That’s it.

      Kate and William got more viewers in England, which is the important thing, as the British support the monarchy. Of course, Meghan and Harry got a lot of viewers in the US. It was on a Saturday and Meghan is American. Logic.

    • RoyalSParkle says:

      Not only larger viewers but Princess Henry Duchess Sussex wore a simple Regal Elegance with substance honouring HM Wedding dress including the CWealth and the Prince Henry Couple new assignment – instead of the wealth and sparkles. And the Qn Mary Tiara honouring a strong matriarch who held the Monarchy together.

      Carol Mike the middletons did not seem ‘the close family’ they like to feed the pblic. Mike middleton seem all to himself.

      • tearose11 says:

        Umm I personally think the commonwealth thing is disgusting, it harks back to a time when the British took my ancestor’s lands and wealth. I don’t give a damn about remembering that part of history other than the fact colonialism is thankfully dead.

        As for the wedding not being about wealth, please, it was all about wealth with a $300K+ dresses, jewellry, security etc. And Kate’s tiara was the Queen Mother’s so I don’t know why that isn’t as significant as Meghan’s. I don’t think either women chose it to honor the original wearers, it just suited their individual styles.

    • Melinda says:

      Only these are ONLY U.S. ratings. In the UK where they actually live there were only 11 million viewers. That is less than Edward and Sophie lol. She is widely disliked there and rightfully so. If she wasn’t half black too you could take away a lot of U.S. numbers

  2. Alix says:

    The wedding was shorter and far more interesting than any Oscar telecast.

  3. Joy says:

    I am one of those 3 million who was up with the chickens to watch this wedding. I just came here for fashion updates for the Oscars.

    • Tulip Garden says:

      *raises hand* me too! Also drove 2 hours for royal watch get together. Loved it all!

      Oscars, meh, I’ll see the fashion the next day and, maybe, some of the winning films, maybe, eventually.

    • Una says:

      Oscars are way too long. So are Royal Weddings but they happen rarely so I am OK with it. I know they don’t mean shit but I find Golden Globes to be the most fun to watch on TV. Maybe because celebs are more relaxed and alcohol is everywhere, but GG are just fun to watch.

  4. SM says:

    I was among those people in the group of “I don’t really care” but ended up loving it. More entertaining and shorter than Oscars. As for an event interrupting your sleep routine, bow imagine how it is for all of us in Europe, watching any big event happening in US.

  5. Brunswickstoval says:

    I live in Australia and most people I know want to be a republic. I can understand Americans not having that baggage about a royal wedding and also the interest with an American marrying. But I don’t know many here who watched it.

  6. Fa says:

    The difference is the Oscar was transmitted by one network, the wedding were transmitted everywhere on online and on TV.

  7. Digital Unicorn says:

    I know a few people who had BBQ’s and garden parties that watched it, then the FA cup final – people made the most of the good weather. I was a little surprised by the crowds in Windsor but maybe they looked more as its such a small town.

    ITA that SM wasn’t used as well as it could have been for W&K’s wedding. CH tried a bit to hard to control the press around it (their SM campaign was a bit naff), this time the press office didn’t really do much in terms of SM in the run up (apart from announcements).

    • Curryong says:

      As an Aussie I have to say that it was perfect for us as the ceremony was in the evening here. It got a large TV audience here too. I’m not surprised that the wedding drew so many viewers in the US even if it was early in the morning. This was a new and different union, something different as it was an American marrying into the BRF. The Oscars are lovely but they happen every year. Channels 9 and 7 got over a million viewers each, big for Oz, and I believe almost 4 million watched across the board.

    • imqrious2 says:

      I stayed up, as the commentary started at 1:30 a.m. I loved it all (watched CNN mostly). I was live Tweeting (both with Kaiser and friends) as well as posting here 😊. It was a fun “party”. I had my tea/coffee/scones, and loved it all, start to finish ❤️ I could watch those two looking at each other all day. With what’s going on in the world all around us right now, there can NEVER be too much love shown!

  8. Eliza says:

    I wanted to watch Oscars but ABC isn’t on sling (at least my package). So that was their fault by not being competitive in the streaming market.

    I had no interest in watching the wedding live (Just pics of dress) but was on 5 channels.

    I had two bridal showers this weekend, and in my random sampling: people who loved Diana, from her generation, watched. The rest either didn’t care or only wanted to see dress.

  9. Maya says:

    Everyone loves a good old royal wedding and especially if the bride is a woman of colour.

    Harry is well loved in UK and most people watched for his as well.

    Wonderful weather and people just had the time to watch it. The fact that it was a short wedding, was a bonus.

  10. Slowsnow says:

    The only time I stayed up for anything in the US was for the Presidential results in 2008 to make sure Obama won.
    I only prematurely wake up for beautiful and purposeful men ;-)

  11. OCE says:

    I would argue the number of viewers is far higher than this reported figure. I live in NYC and watched it live online b/c I don’t own network TV (only netflix/Amazon tv/hulu, etc). Also, a cross NYC many movie theaters were airing the wedding and I had tons of friends going to this viewing parties across Manhattan and brooklyn.

    Please note this wedding was historic because the Duchess of Sussex identifies as Black/bi-racial. That alone made everyone in my black hair salon decide they were watching this wedding- to be in solidarity with Doria Ragland as we all prayed for her daughter’s union.

  12. Beth says:

    Watching the Oscars is boring because there are pat on the back award shows on every week. A wedding is sweet and romantic and not an everyday thing to see

  13. lightpurple says:

    The streets of Boston were full of women in floral dresses wearing fascinators Saturday morning. People were into it. The hats, the fashion, the music, the architecture, the tiaras, the carriages, the pageantry. So much more civilized that than lot we’ve got running our country.

  14. Eric says:

    More viewers than the Oscars?

    It was more compelling, had a better cast of characters, had more drama, had a few humorous moments (the Snark Bros waiting for Meghan), had a cute set of twins plus Charlotte waving and Prince George, and had more diversity.

    So, yeah, it was better.

  15. Nell says:

    Lak, I usually love your perspective on royal issues. Can you tell why the viewing for Harry and Meghan’s wedding was down by 30 percent in BRITAIN from Will and Kate’s despite that it was held o. a Saturday and Wills was held on a week day?

    • duchess of hazard says:

      @Nell – back when Will and Kate got married, it wasn’t so dire as it now. I know that as someone who’s a Black Briton and although I’m a citizen I fear being deported (because this government doesn’t seem to like immigrants and people darker than taupe at all), having a Royal wedding in the backdrop of this and Brexit just made me go :/ all day. So I went camping away instead.

      • Alyse says:

        It didn’t have as high a profile here. For Will and Kate, we had a public holiday so everyone was off work specifically due to their wedding. This felt like any other Saturday with all the usual plans that people have, plus there was the FA cup final. Saying that, I watched it and the area outside my home was really quiet so I think people were inside watching it.

      • SilverUnicorn says:

        @Duchess of Hazard

        Yes climate is very different now. I am a EU citizen and we are packing (I am a EU citizen married to a Brit) and had constant nightmares and depression since 23/06/16. I just want to live a quiet life and not waking up in the middle of the night fearing Home Office staff handcuffing me and escorting me to an immigration detention camp.

        I saw the last 20 minutes of the ceremony and then turned the TV off.

    • LAK says:

      What my fellow Brits are saying.

      Plus this was Diana’s son. No one really knew William at that point. The Diana association was stronger with him then. Harry was practically an afterthought as far as people were concerned. The nostalgia was off the charts. I actually felt sorry for Kate. Her engagement memorabilia heavily featured Diana.

      And we had a bank holiday out of it. No work, yet still paid. Yipee!!

      And it was held at Westminster. It had been awhile since we’d had that much pomp and ceremony. The QM’s funeral in 2002 was the last time such had happened.

  16. whatever1 says:

    What were the UK viewing figures?

  17. Becks1 says:

    i also think it was a snowball effect. I have friends who weren’t going to watch it but got up (with little kids or are just early risers) and saw FB and IG and Twitter posts and kind of bought into the excitement and turned it on. So I think as more people posted excitedly (OPRAH!!!!!!) interest grew rapidly that morning alone.

    I took off for W&K’s wedding lol but it was stuffy and the lead up do it did not have the same feel as this one.* I think that’s partly because Will and Kate are less charismatic than Harry and Meghan (that’s not an insult, some people have charisma and some don’t) and it just overall was always going to have a more formal feel to it. If you don’t care about royals, then you wouldn’t care about seeing Letizia and Felipe there or whatever. If you care about celebrities more, then James Blunt, Oprah, Idris et al are going to be more exciting for you.

    *I say that the lead up wasn’t as exciting but I do remember the excitement over the dinner the queen hosted for fellow royals the night before, and the shots of Kate going into the hotel and waving. People were super amped about it and I don’t mean to say that they weren’t. But it was just a different vibe IMO.

  18. Guest says:

    I’m curious about streaming numbers

  19. B n A fn says:

    We watched to get away from the constant mess the dotard is putting us through. Everyone wanted a rest from the nonsense. It was good to see something pretty, fun and two people in love. Also, the Bishop Curry, song Stand by Me, the cellist was just beautiful. It was just a joy to get away from seeing our country going to hell in a hand basket everyday and no one doing a thing about it.

    Btw, the bride was just beautiful, Harry was looking so handsome and 😆. A great way to get my mind off what’s happening here in the USA.

  20. Nell says:

    13 million people watched Harry’s wedding on BBC and BBC had the highest viewing among all the channels in BRITAIN.

    26 million people watched William and Kate’s wedding on BBC in 2011.

    And 28 million people watched Diana and Charles wedding in 1981. Source:DM.

    • whatever1 says:

      That’s interesting.

    • Christin says:

      Is it the current climate that led to lower viewership? The cost of the wedding, in light of cuts to services, etc.?

      I felt a bit bad for watching all the extravagance of this “modest” wedding. It was an escape for US viewers, but possibly a bad taste for British taxpayers and citizens facing serious issues.

      • Brunswickstoval says:

        I saw an interesting (thought provoking) comment. It cost £280,000 for her dresses and it would have cost £200,000 to clad Grenfell tower. Given the inquiry is happening now in the UK I think the cost (waste) is very much an issue for many.

      • Guest says:

        Interesting indeed. Tragic that so many people had to die. I just don’t think there was a warm feeling towards this wedding. 2011 and 2012 were big years for the BRF, everyone was more excited. Btw, I’m talking about Britons.

      • Trixie P says:

        It is interesting to see the thoughtful and sometimes resentful comments of Brits toward this wedding and the amount spent. I saw the Grenfell tower comparison also, plus the security costs were repeated over and over in the same breath as kids getting turned away from hospitals.

        Americans loved that MM is American, biracial, and becoming a “princess.” I was disappointed at how deep the “Prince marrying the girl and making her a Princess and protecting her forever,” fairy tale still exists with women. And the idea that it is seen as an “accomplishment” that Meghan is marrying a prince and will subjugate her voice to the family’s. I thought many women had moved on beyond being saved or made famous through a man.

      • Abby says:

        I dunno about the fairy tale. My friends are excited that she’s going to have a voice and a bigger platform for her causes. And they love seeing a black princess. But that’s only a small slice of the population–maybe other people feel differently.

        It seems like a big tradeoff–autonomy for royalty. Not sure I’d do it, as much as I had a crush on Will as a teeny and loved the tiaras/crown jewels….

      • Melinda says:

        Meghan will have no “voice” or “platform” for anything. That is not what the BRF is about. She will fade quietly into the background along with Harry, especially as Catherine’s kids grow up they will become less and less relevant if she is even still around. She is widely disliked in the UK and rightfilly so. it shows in these numbers.

  21. chai35 says:

    I guess for me (eastern time zone US), 6 am on a Saturday isn’t exactly the break of dawn. Will and Kate’s wedding actually was on much earlier in the US and I didn’t get up for that one.

  22. Cee says:

    I woke up at 7 AM and checked IG to see her wedding dress and find out their titles. I had to work so much of what I saw was on social media. I’m looking forward to watching the whole thing this weekend. I wanna see the pastor’s sermon!

  23. Elisabeth says:

    It makes sense that American numbers were higher for the wedding of an American princess. 13 million more people watched Will and Kate’s wedding on the BBC alone in the UK, which also makes sense – the wedding of the heir vs the spare. Both weddings were beautiful in their own way, and fwiw, this American was up at the crack of dawn with champagne for both of them! :)

  24. homeslice says:

    I’m in S. CA, and didn’t watch…too early. Most people here I asked didn’t watch and weren’t interested and gave me blank stares when I tried to engage them in convo about it. lol.
    My east coast friends (judging from social media) seemed more into it.

  25. Sayrah says:

    I used to be so excited to watch the Oscars every year but I just don’t care anymore. I think the Harvey Weinstein scandal just made me so sick over the politics of pushing your star to the top of the pack and the consequences for not doing what the producer wants. Puke.

    By contrast, I would have watched the wedding regardless but I think the tmz drama leading up to it had more people interested. And I think it’s clear these two are really in love. With all the crap we’ve been seeing recently it’s nice for people around the world to cheer for love.

  26. Tea Bags, baby! says:

    I also think in part, aside from the fact she’s American and a lot of people had seen her on TV (not me but I have a very Suits-obsessed friend,) there were many avenues in which to watcg. Like I had to be at work at 8am on Saturday so I just drove in early and streamed it on the flatscreen computer in the office. You could watch it on TV or stream it on HBO, Hulu, Youtube-streaming wasn’t at its peak in 2011.
    Apparently there were less UK viewers for this wedding than the 2011 Royal wedding, about a million less, but that didn’t include the streaming numbers.

  27. LittlefishMom says:

    Because the Oscars suck. Duh.

  28. Pix says:

    I watched it live and DVR’d it so I could watch it four more times in two days. Obsessed is an understatement.

  29. MissMarierose says:

    I’m on the West Coast and that was way too early for me. Thank gawd for the DVR! I watched it when I got up, at a decent hour, and was able to fast forward through the boring commentary.

  30. me says:

    This wedding was a good break from all the crap happening in the world. It was nice to see happy people on TV for once. I watch the news a lot…it’s depressing, scary and sad. It was great to have a break from it all.

  31. All About Eve says:

    It is understandable and it was expected that this wedding would get more US tv viewers because Meghan is an American citizen. However I’m not surprised that tv viewers in the UK & Australia has gone down. The Brits & the Aussies are not as invested in the royals as they used to be. The reason W&K drew higher tv numbers & larger crowds is because William is the heir, but even W&K couldn’t beat Charles & Diana’s wedding in the 80s which has drawn the largest viewers.

  32. Other Renee says:

    I was up at 2 am on the west coast and loved every minute of it. Just me and my bowl of cereal. I watched it on the BBC via YouTube tv. I don’t know if I would be counted in those numbers since it was through YouTube tv and I have no idea how that works. Which, by the way, is the best deal in town. $35/month.

  33. Bc says:

    I love them. I wish them a long, happy marriage so haters can seethe some more.

  34. Abby says:

    I got up and watched at 4:15 am. I figured it was the last royal wedding for decades, it was a saturday and i was out of town with family. My MIL got up and watched with me and my two kids saw the end of it. I watched Will & Kate too–I was a newlywed and it was great too. But I really enjoyed this one. Something about seeing a bi-racial american marry into the royal family was just really neat to watch–a historic moment I didn’t want to miss. It was worth getting up early for!

    We watched on Sling TV on BBC America. I never watch tv these days actually. Watched some Olympics, but that is literally the last time I watched anything other than what my little ones want to watch.

    I haven’t watched the Oscars in a couple of years. I think i have watched a single movie this year (other than kids’ movies) and that was The Greatest Showman. On our TV. There’s no point in me watching the Oscars if I haven’t seen ANY of the movies. But I come over to Celebitchy to look at all the fashion, and get the recap!

  35. mela says:

    I may be wrong here but since it was her second wedding and she is an older bride, I thought the dress was understated for that purpose.

    Wedding dresses are like work attire to me. My personal philosphy is work and weddings (whether guest or bride) is not a time or place to try and look “sexy” and more about looking polished and appropriate

    I remember growing up if your parents remarried, often times it was a very small wedding, a court house wedding and the bridge typicaly wore a more casual short dress or skirt suit in the 80′s lol

  36. Linda says:

    Canadian here. No one I know got up to watch it. Knowing the Mulroneys were involved ruined it for us.

  37. justwastingtime says:

    On the US west coast with a new 9-week old puppy that arrived on Friday. I wouldn’t have watched it live, but said new puppy woke me up at 3:00 AM crying and whining which was sad but perfect timing to catch the best of the wedding, just after the “boys” showed up.. just in time to see the major royals and MM swan in. It was a heck of lot more fun to watch than the last royal wedding..