Oprah Winfrey’s explosive two-hour interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, drew massive ratings for CBS Sunday night, with an audience of more than 17 million viewers tuning in live.
But those who had specifically signed up for Paramount Plus — ViacomCBS’ rebranded streaming service that launched just last week — to stream the highly anticipated interview were left high and dry. Though the special was available to watch live using Paramount Plus’ “live TV” function, the full program was not there. People who signed on Sunday night to watch the interview instead saw a splash featuring Queen Latifah for “The Equalizer” and “60 Minutes.” Nor did the search function on the site recognize “Oprah.”
“Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A Primetime Special” is now available on CBS.com. But the program is still not on Paramount Plus.
A source has told Variety that Harpo, Winfrey’s production company, has the streaming rights to the special, not CBS. So while the special was available on Paramount Plus to stream live, and is on CBS.com for free for the next 30 days, it won’t be added to the nascent streamer’s programming.
As of last year, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have a multi-year deal with Netflix, and in 2018, Winfrey made a deal with Apple TV Plus. It appears those deals precluded Paramount Plus from being able to stream what will likely be one of the biggest programs of the year, showing the complexities of the streaming wars.
Representatives from Paramount Plus, CBS and Harpo did not respond to Variety’s request for comment.
But on Twitter, people had a lot of questions.
Paramount+ really messed up for not having the Oprah interview.
— Ale🌺 (@21ale) March 8, 2021
Someone help me watch this interview! Not I even got the Paramount app trial and still can't find this Meg/Harry/Oprah interview.
— AhYesYes_Yall (@MC_B00KS) March 8, 2021
Viacom not debuting the Oprah interview on Paramount+ the week of its launch might go down as one of the biggest blunders in TV history.
— Andrew Ungvari (@DrewUnga) March 8, 2021
I literally downloaded paramount plus specifically because google said the Oprah interview would be on there and it’s not 😭 how can I watch it? Was it just on live and then gone forever???
— Pretty to Think So (@soprettytothink) March 8, 2021
hey @paramountplus — how come i cannot watch the oprah, meghan and harry interview through my paramount+ subscription? every other cbs show is on there? what’s up with that?#HarryandMeghanonOprah #OprahMeghanHarry #MeghanandHarryonOprah #HarryMeghanOprah #HarryandMeghan
— patience kamau (@patiencekamau) March 8, 2021
the entire world: we want to watch the oprah interview
paramount plus: the top trending show on this platform is spongebob squarepants
— Kathryn VanArendonk (@kvanaren) March 8, 2021
CBS launched Paramount+ with Super Bowl commercials and fanfare and all this.
They then have this MASSIVE Oprah interview with Meghan and Harry.
The interview isn't on Paramount+
I don't get it 🤦🏻♂️
— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman) March 8, 2021
That this company launched/relaunched a new streaming platform the week of this interview — a launch done with NO new marquee programming — and had no way of using the interview to drive people to the platform is BRUTAL negligence. https://t.co/wRkRSoWT7V
— Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint) March 8, 2021
Michael Schneider and Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.