Almost 18 million Britons watched coverage of Saturday’s royal wedding, making it by far the biggest television event of the year, as social networks and news websites also saw enormous online interest in the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
British viewers overwhelmingly turned to the BBC’s coverage, led by Kirsty Young, Huw Edwards and Dermot O’Leary, which attracted a peak audience of 13.1 million during the ceremony itself.
ITV’s programming attracted a peak audience of 3.6 million people, while substantially smaller numbers of people watched on Sky News and the BBC News Channel.
The viewing figures are lower than for the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton but the overall fall in TV audiences means the BBC’s coverage was comfortably the most watched British television programme of 2018.
US TV networks, which invested heavily in coverage of the wedding and cleared their schedules for all-day programming hosted by leading presenters, will report their audience figures later on Sunday. The global audience, while difficult to estimate, is likely to be in the hundreds of millions.
Twitter saw enormous interest in the wedding, with 3.4m tweets sent during the ceremony, according to the social network.
Social media interest in the event peaked during the passionate sermon delivered by US bishop Michael Curry, at which point people following the ceremony sent 40,000 tweets a minute.
News websites saw substantial boosts to their traffic figures as readers flocked to the wedding coverage, while the enormous interest in the wedding was also reflected on newsstands. The UK’s 10 national Sunday newspapers – including a special one-off Sunday edition of the i newspaper – dedicated a combined 282 pages of print coverage to the wedding.
The Sunday Express provided the most coverage, with 48 pages of reaction and pictures from the ceremony.