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The royal wedding was a very big deal on Saturday, despite its very early start time.
Several weeks of unchecked hype by the American and British media culminated in the May 19 nuptials between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The stateside audience for the ceremony was a whopping 22.4 million viewers across the six major networks carrying it.
Royal ratings are expected to grow even more when Nielsen Media reports cable tallies, but none will likely approach NBC. The network’s coverage, under the Today umbrella, led with 6.42 million viewers. ABC was right on its tail, averaging 6.38 million, while CBS tallied 4.79 million. Those numbers are for average viewership between 6 and 9 a.m. PT, when the majority of the procession and event took place.
Another 4.8 million viewers watched on the big three cable news networks; Fox News led with 2 million, followed by CNN with 1.8 million and just under 1 million for MSNBC.
U.S. viewership is on track to beat that in the U.K., where early multi-channel returns give a reported audience of 18 million.
Markle’s status as an American and a former actress may have further helped her big day. It is now expected to be slightly bigger than the last royal wedding, as tallies for the 2011 nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, averaged nearly 23 million viewers across all U.S. networks airing the event.
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