Since 2003, Ellen DeGeneres has danced down the studio steps of her daytime talk show to critical and viewer acclaim. Unfortunately, The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s audience, which the New York Times reports has already dropped by over 1 million viewers, is also headed down at a precipitous rate. In contrast to last year’s 2.6 million viewers, Ellen is currently averaging an audience of 1.5 million. The show’s viewership decline arrives after last summer’s public reckoning over Ellen’s allegedly toxic workplace environment.
In August, Ellen executive producer Ed Glavin, co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, and head writer Kevin Leman — accused in BuzzFeed News reports of racism, intimidation, harassment, and misconduct — were dismissed from the show, while denying the accusations against them. Meanwhile, rumors of DeGeneres’s own hostile behavior grew louder during the same time period. When Ellen returned on September 21, DeGeneres apologized for her role in fostering a toxic environment. “The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV,” she explained. “I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress.”
As for Ellen’s drop in viewership, well, there is a pandemic still going on, and with it, working from home and remote learning. “The Ellen DeGeneres Show remains one of the top three highest-rated syndicated talk shows this season,” David McGuire, executive vice president of programming at Telepictures, a Warner Bros. subsidiary, said in a statement to the Times. “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.”
However, DeGeneres’s peers and competitors reportedly have not experienced the same steep decline. Per the Times, “Dr. Phil is down 22 percent, and The Kelly Clarkson Show has lost 26 percent of its viewers. Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest’s show has lost just 3 percent, and Tamron Hall is down 9 percent.” Ellen’s audience, by comparison, has fallen off by 43 percent.