Entertainment

Harry & Meghan becomes UK’s most-watched subscription TV series

Netflix accounts for seven of the top 10 non-linear shows.
Netflix accounts for seven of the top 10 non-linear shows. Netflix accounts for seven of the top 10 non-linear shows.

Harry & Meghan, the Netflix documentary about the life of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, has become the UK’s most-watched subscription TV series of the year so far, figures show.

The first episode was seen by an average of 4.5 million people in the seven days after its release on December 8.

This is more than a million and a half higher than the equivalent figure for episode one of the new series of The Crown (2.8 million), which was released a few weeks earlier on November 9.

The first episode of Harry and Meghan was seen by an average of 4.5 million people in the seven days after its release on December 8 (Netflix/PA) (Courtesy of Prince Harry and Meg Courtesy of Prince Harry and Meg)

The explosive six-part series saw the couple discuss intimate details around how they met as well as making accusations of mistreatment by the royal family and the British press.

Harry alleged that his brother, the Prince of Wales, left him terrified after screaming and shouting during the Sandringham summit and that Kensington Palace “lied to protect my brother” when it issued a statement denying a story William had bullied him out of the royal family.

He also accused his father of lying at the tense Megxit crisis meeting with the Queen in January 2020.

The series followed the release of the highly anticipated fifth instalment of The Crown, a fictionalised version of royal events, one month earlier in November.

Now starring Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Elizabeth Debicki and Dominic West, the latest episodes touched on the breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage, including the princess’s infamous BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir.

It has attracted criticism from high-profile figures including Dame Judi Dench and former prime minister Sir John Major, who said it had begun to verge on “crude sensationalism” and “malicious nonsense”.

Netflix added a disclaimer to the description of the trailer for series five, but reiterated that The Crown is a “fictionalised drama”.

Harry and Meghan’s documentary also beat this year’s other big releases on Netflix, including the highest-rated episodes of the latest series of After Life (4.1 million), Stranger Things (3.9 million) and Bridgerton (3.4 million).

The fifth series of The Crown stars Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Elizabeth Debicki and Dominic West (Netflix/PA)

Stars of the supernatural drama Stranger Things, including Joseph Quinn and Sadie Sink, have seen their public profiles boosted massively following the release of the climactic final episodes.

The series also brought Kate Bush’s 1985 hit song Running Up That Hill back into popular consciousness, and helped send the track back to number one in the UK charts – after it featured throughout the series.

The watching figures, published by audience research organisation Barb, provide the first snapshot of how 2022’s leading subscription-only series have fared in the UK.

The most-watched show on Disney Plus has been episode one of Star Wars spin-off Obi-Wan, which had an audience of 3.1 million people in the seven days after its release in May.

Stranger Things
Stranger Things Stars of the supernatural drama Stranger Things, including Sadie Sink (right), saw their public profiles boosted massively following the release of the climactic final episodes (Ntflix/PA)

It saw franchise stars Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christiansen reunite to reprise their characters of Obi-Wan and Darth Vader for another epic battle.

Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power is the highest-rated show on Amazon Prime Video, with 3.2 million for its first episode in September.

But Netflix dominates the list, accounting for seven of the titles in the top 10.

Despite episode one of Harry & Meghan attracting an audience of 4.5 million, this is less than half the typical ratings for two of the most-watched shows on traditional linear (non-subscription) channels, the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, and well below figures for recent World Cup matches.

It is also slightly below the audience for the episode of MasterChef: The Professionals that was broadcast on BBC One in the week Harry & Meghan was released.