Last year, The Ellen DeGeneres Show came under massive scrutiny after allegations of a “toxic” work culture surfaced. WarnerMedia investigated the claims, Degeneres wrote a letter to her staff apologizing for her supposed ignorance, and three high-up executive producers “parted ways” for good. Following a multi-month hiatus, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has finally returned to TV only to discover that its viewership has taken a huge nosedive.
Over 110 episodes have aired since Season 18 kicked off in September 2020, and Ellen DeGeneres has spent them interviewing the biggest names in pop culture, as is normal for the series. According to The New York Times, however, these new episodes have drawn an average of 1.5 million viewers over the past six months — a 43% drop compared to the 2.6 million viewers who tuned in during that same period in the previous season. Worst of all, Nielsen found a 38% decline in the show’s key audience: adult women under the age of 54.
Of course, most everyone and everything is experiencing a drop-off during the pandemic (including iconic award shows), but DeGeneres is doing particularly poorly compared to her daytime talk show peers. Instead of drawing numbers that align her with Dr. Phil or Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, her ratings are more on par with TV B-listers like Kelly Clarkson and Steve Wilkos, the former security guard on Jerry Springer, reports the Times.
DeGeneres has attempted to be transparent about the changes taking place on her show, but it appears some viewers may have felt let down by the fact these problems happened in the first place. The original Buzzfeed report on The Ellen DeGeneres Show revealed that staff members experienced little tolerance for family emergencies, inconsistently enforced rules, and attempts to silence workers who expressed concerns over the years. Buzzfeed then published a second report that uncovered allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, primarily at the hands of the three producers who are now no longer in charge at the show.
Buzzfeed didn’t find evidence of bad behavior from DeGeneres herself in their initial report, but that didn’t stop the article from cracking her outward appearance as a friendly, problem-free figure. Last fall, thousands of people signed a petition to replace her as the host. Then, a few months later, DeGeneres tested positive for COVID-19. Talk about not being able to catch a break.