The Ellen Show loses viewers after workplace misconduct apology in September 2020
Over the summer, Ellen DeGeneres was hit with serious allegations of workplace misconduct on her show. Though she apologized and seemed to charge forward with her show as normal, new data shows that The Ellen Show has actually lost about a million viewers in the wake of the allegations.
Per Nielsen, From September 2020 until March 2021, The Ellen Show averaged about 1.5 million viewers. During that same period last year, the show averaged about 2.6 million eyeballs.
No one can point with certainty at the workplace misconduct scandal and claim that it’s the reason for the dip, but Ellen battled the allegations for most of the summer and in September 2020 when they show returned from its summer hiatus, Ellen addressed the scandal head-on. It’s likely no coincidence that the period after the misconduct investigation was when the viewership numbers dropped off.
Allegations against The Ellen Show surfaced over the summer with staff members saying they had dealt with “racism, fear and intimidation” on the set.
Other said high-level producers had sexually harassed them. An internal investigation led to three upper-level, and male, producers being fired. Additionally, a social media campaign against DeGeneres herself began in March 2020, with fans and Hollywood insiders sharing unpleasant stories about the talk show host.
When Ellen addressed the story in September 2020 on her show, she said “I learned that things happen here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.” That “apology” episode had the highest ratings for an “Ellen” premiere in four years, but after that season opener — the fans tuned out. Did her fans tune out after hearing about the “toxic workplace” allegations? Or were they just tired of watching celebrity interviews via Zoom screens? Warner Bros claims it’s the latter.
David McGuire, an executive vice president of programming at Telepictures, a Warner Bros. subsidiary, told The New York Times in a statement that the decline in viewership could be blamed on “changing viewing habits during the pandemic.” He claims that Ellen and everyone at the show is looking forward to her upcoming 19th season, which will likely see the return of her full studio audience, which — because of COVID — has been sparse and socially distanced.
COVID could be partly to blame, and other talk shows saw viewership drop-offs during the pandemic as well, but none as severe as The Ellen Show.
US Weekly reports that Ellen’s viewership dropped 43% from September 2020 until now. For comparison, The Kelly Clarkson Show audience only dropped by 26% percent, Dr. Phil went down 22%, and Live With Kelly and Ryan only went down three percentage points.
Ellen is definitely returning for another season of her show but has yet to say what she’ll do after the 2021-2022 season.