Royal wedding ratings are princely but nothing close to a TV record


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The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, now Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, may have been fairy-tale perfect, but the U.S. ratings weren’t anything to wake the queen over.

An average of 22.8 million total viewers tuned in to the nuptials from Westminster Abbey in London, which aired live Friday from approximately 3 a.m. to 4:15 a.m., according to the Nielsen Co.


Eleven Stateside networks carried the event: ABC, CBS, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, BBC America, CNN, E!, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and TLC.

That was a large audience for an early-morning news event, but it was by no means a record. By comparison, the funeral of Princess Diana, William’s mother, which also took place during the early-morning hours in the U.S., was watched by 33.2 million in 1997. This year’s Super Bowl, the most-watched TV event in history, was seen by 111 million total viewers. In fact, the William-Kate ratings were roughly comparable to those of a typical episode of this season’s ‘American Idol.’

The July 1981 wedding of Prince William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, was seen by 14.2 million households, compared with 18.6 million households for Prince William and Kate Middleton (Nielsen does not have a total-viewer figure for the Charles-Diana wedding). However, the U.S. population is 35% larger than it was 30 years ago, which more than accounts for the discrepancy.

The lackluster numbers were a surprise given the predictions from some quarters of a ratings blowout. Some reports had ventured worldwide viewing of 3 billion -- a target that, given the U.S. figures, would seem almost impossibly out of reach.


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-- Scott Collins (