ITV last night racked up a bumper 11.1m viewers for the eagerly-awaited Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
The tell-all interview, which aired at 9pm last night, peaked at 12.4m viewers as Brits flocked to watch the couple make explosive claims about the royal family.
The figures make Oprah with Meghan and Harry the most-viewed entertainment show so far this year, second only to Boris Johnson’s coronavirus briefing on the BBC in January.
The bumper audience will come as a major boost to the broadcaster, which said it had received huge advertiser interest for the programme.
The figures were released hours after ITV warned of a “challenging” ad market in the first quarter after suffered sharp falls in revenue and profit last year as a result of the pandemic.
The public service broadcaster now plans to double the revenue it makes by commissioning shows to streaming rivals such as Netflix as it looks to reduce its reliance on ad revenue.
The sit-down chat was ITV’s largest peak audience since the Rugby World Cup final in 2019 and the largest for any show excluding coronavirus briefings since the final of Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One in December.
The channel captured a 54 per cent audience share during the show last night, while four out of five viewers aged 16 to 34 tuned in. Of the total viewing figures, 2.2m streamed the programme on ITV Hub.
It comes after 17.1m Americans tuned in to watch the interview, which was made by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and aired on CBS, on Sunday night.
The programme, which contained explosive accusations of racism within the royal household, has also had a knock-on effect on ITV’s other broadcasting.
Good Morning Britain, co-hosted by controversial commentator Piers Morgan, averaged 1.2m viewers yesterday, its highest since the US election and third biggest overnight volume ever.
Morgan prompted outrage yesterday when he cast doubts over comments Meghan made about feeling suicidal, and stormed offstage during this morning’s show during another heated exchange with a co-presenter.
ITV boss Carolyn McCall this morning said she “completely believes” the Duchess of Sussex, adding that the broadcaster had spoken to Morgan about his comments.