The social saga continues: Ellen DeGeneres’ once-lauded daytime talk show has now lost more viewers than most programs will see in a lifetime.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for DeGeneres and her fans. After sweeping claims of a toxic work environment throughout 2020, the star and her show have been scrambling to make things right. Or at least to give the appearance of it.
And for Season 18’s premiere in September after a summer chock-full of controversy, it looked as if it had worked. 18’s opener held the highest ratings of any season premiere in the last four years of “Ellen,” the New York Times cites.
Millions tuned in to hear Ellen DeGeneres apologize for everything they had found out.
“I learned that things happen here that never should have happened,” DeGeneres told viewers in the premiere. “I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”
And then she continued.
“Being known as the Be Kind Lady is a tricky position to be in,” Ellen added. “So let me give you some advice. If anyone is thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the Be Kind Lady.”
Things took a sharp – and steep – turn after her on-air apology. As Season 18 continues, ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ has seen a staggering 43% decline in viewership. Pulling from Nielsen, the New York Times clarifies this as a loss of over 1 million viewers.
Perhaps more shockingly, ‘Ellen’s drop includes a 38% decline in her core audience: women viewers under 54.
Ellen DeGeneres and a Hollywood Fall From Grace
“Her brand is not just being fairly nice — it is ‘Be Kind,’” Stephen Galloway, the dean of Chapman University’s Dodge College of film and media arts, tells the Times. “She’s chosen two words to stamp herself. You cannot have hypocrisy better defined than when you’ve chosen those two words to define yourself and everyone is seeing the opposite is true inside your show.
“The reason the incident with the producers was such a difficult and perilous moment is it’s the first time where something surfaced to indicate that a family — Ellen’s own professional family — was dysfunctional,” he adds.
In light of the intense public scrutiny – fueled by social media and “accountability culture” – ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ now averages around 1.5 million viewers per episode. Compare this to 2.6 million during this same stretch of previous seasons, and the show’s fall from grace from claims of behind-camera racism, sexual assault, and bullying, becomes crystal clear.
Yet other factors seem to be at play. All daytime talk shows have lost viewership over the course of the last year. But nothing like Ellen’s losses.
“Even with the complications affecting all talk shows during the pandemic, ‘Ellen,‘ with its loss of 43 percent of its audience, has suffered a steeper decline than its rivals,” the Times addresses. “’Dr. Phil’ is down 22 percent, and ‘The Kelly Clarkson’ show has lost 26 percent of its viewers.”
In contrast, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest’s show has lost just 3 percent of viewership. ‘”Live: With Kelly and Ryan” now drastically outperforms Ellen at 2.7 million viewers. “Dr. Phil,” too, at 2.5 million.