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

The Sussexes' docuseries beats The Crown to the top spot

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

An average of 4.5 million people watched the first episode in the seven days after its release on December 8.

That is 1.7 million higher than the equivalent figure for episode one of the new series of The Crown, which was released on November 9.

In the explosive six-part series, the couple discuss intimate details about how they met, and make accusations of mistreatment by the royal family and the British press.

Prince Harry claimed that his brother, the Prince of Wales, left him terrified after screaming and shouting during the Sandringham summit.

And he said that Kensington Palace “lied to protect my brother” when it issued a statement denying a story that Prince William had bullied him out of the royal family.

Prince Harry also accused his father of lying at the tense Megxit crisis meeting with the queen in January 2020.

Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary released - in pictures

The series followed the release of the highly anticipated fifth instalment of The Crown, a fictionalised version of royal events.

Starring Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Elizabeth Debicki and Dominic West, the latest episodes touched on the breakdown of King 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”.

Harry & Meghan documentary - in pictures

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

Prince 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).

Stars of the supernatural drama Stranger Things, including Joseph Quinn and Sadie Sink, have had their public profiles boosted massively after 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 to send the track back to number one in the UK charts after it featured throughout the series.

Final part of Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary released - in pictures

The audience figures, published by 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.

In it, franchise stars Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christiansen reunited 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.

Harry & Meghan documentary finale airs on Netflix - video

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 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, which was broadcast on BBC 1 in the week Harry & Meghan was released.

Harry & Meghan Netflix show divides opinion outside Buckingham Palace - video

Updated: December 21, 2022, 10:54 PM