While Ellen DeGeneres was able to hold onto her long-running daytime-television show amid allegations the show was produced amid a toxic work environment, those allegations certainly cost her. According to Nielsen ratings, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has lost over a million viewers since its 18th season debuted on September 21, 2020.
That episode, which drew the show’s highest ratings for a premiere in four years, found DeGeneres apologizing to fans after a summer mired in controversy due to a BuzzFeed News report that claimed former and current staff members on The Ellen DeGeneres Show had experienced “racism, fear, and intimidation” while on set; some alleged that they were sexually harassed by Ellen show producers. After a Warner Bros. investigation found “deficiencies” in the workplace, head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman and executive producers Ed Glavin and Jonathan Norman were fired from the program, and DeGeneres issued an on-air apology. “I learned that things happen here that never should have happened,” said DeGeneres during the premiere. “I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”
Even since DeGeneres’s public mea culpa, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has faced hard times. Per a report in The New York Times, the Ellen show has averaged 1.5 million viewers over the last six months down 2.6 million in the same period last year. That amounts to a stark 43% decline in viewership for the daytime series, placing it well under competition like Dr. Phil (2.5 million viewers) and Live With Kelly and Ryan (2.7 million viewers)—and more in line with shows from daytime-television newbies like The Kelly Clarkson Show (1.3 million viewers) and Tamron Hall Show (1.1 million viewers). The Ellen DeGeneres Show is down 38% with its core demographic of women under 54, and has reportedly lost about 20% in ad revenue, dipping from $131 million to $105 million from September from season 17 to season 18. The ratings decline has apparently affected DeGeneres’s prime-time show as well, with Ellen’s Game of Games on NBC hemorrhaging about 32% of its overall viewership this season.
Whether these setbacks will result in DeGeneres leaving the daytime program that has won numerous Daytime Emmy awards since its debut in 2003 is unclear. The Ellen DeGeneres Show has already been renewed for a 19th season, and DeGeneres’s contract is up at the end of next year. In a statement, executive vice president of programming at Telepictures, a Warner Bros. subsidiary, David McGuire said, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show remains one of the top three highest-rated syndicated talk shows this season.” He added, “While broadcast is down across the board and Covid has been challenging for production, we are looking forward to bringing back our live audiences and a 19th season filled with all of the hilarious and heartwarming moments that have made Ellen one of the longest running and most successful talk shows in history.”
Whether or not Ellen continues, DeGeneres has long-term plans to continue collaborating with NBC’s parent company, WarnerMedia, inking a deal in 2019 to make four different programs for the streamer HBO Max, including a design show and a dating show.
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