'Ellen DeGeneres Show' loses 1M viewers after workplace toxicity scandal
Ellen DeGeneres's talk show is losing viewers and revenue after its workplace toxicity scandal.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show host, 63, used Tuesday's show to share a health update on her wife, Portia de Rossi, who's "feeling much better now" after an emergency appendectomy. However, behind-the-scenes, DeGeneres's show is struggling, having seen a large ratings decline — of more than one million viewers — in its 18th season.
The New York Times reports that since September — when DeGeneres returned to the air with an apology after the show's scandal led to an investigation and firings — the program has averaged 1.5 million viewers. That is down from 2.6 million during the same time last year, per research firm Nielsen.
While COVID has impacted shows — and she wasn't immune, contracting the virus in December, leading to an unplanned hiatus — the Ellen Show's is a steeper drop than any of its competitors. Typically it rivals Live: With Kelly and Ryan (which has 2.7 million viewers), but now it's closer to shows hosted by Kelly Clarkson (1.3 million) and Tamron Hall (1.1 million).
A loss of ratings, of course, is a loss of revenue. From September to January of the 2019-20 season, Ellen brought in $131 million from advertisers, per the research firm Kantar. For the same time period of the 2020-21 season, it was $105 million — $26 million less.
There's been a lot of speculation over how things would play out for the talk show host — whose brand is to "Be Kind" — after her show employees claimed they experienced “racism, fear and intimidation” on the set.
Stephen Galloway, the dean of Chapman University’s Dodge College of film and media arts, told the NYT, “Her brand is not just being fairly nice — it is ‘Be Kind.' 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."
However, while there was talk in December that she was having trouble booking guests, it hasn't stopped many A-list — like Jennifer Garner, Michelle Obama, Justin Bieber, Kris Jenner and Demi Lovato — from appearances this season. Though DeGeneres uses guest hosts, like Stephen "tWitch" Boss and Tiffany Haddish, so her air time has decreased over the years.
DeGeneres — who is worth an estimated $370 million, according to Forbes —has long considered ending the show to pursue other projects, which de Rossi has urged her to do. If the 18th season of the show is its last, she'll have no shortage of other things lined up. She also hosts NBC's prime-time Ellen’s Game of Games, which has lost 32 percent of its viewers this season. In 2019, she made a deal to produce four shows for HBO Max streaming platform. She also has a multi-year deal with Discovery to produce natural history documentaries and series.
Amid the ratings decline, DeGeneres got personal on Tuesday's show discussing de Rossi's health emergency. She started her monologue asking the audience, watching remotely, if they had a good weekend. Then said, "Anybody else have to rush their wife to the emergency room for an appendectomy? Just me?"
DeGeneres explained she and her wife of 12 years were home Friday night watching TV and she was sipping a Cann drink, a product with CBD and THC, to relax. At 8 p.m., de Rossi said she wasn't feeling well and wanted to go to bed.
While it was early for them, DeGeneres joined her, but because she has trouble sleeping, she took two sleep vitamins to help her nod off quicker. Just as she was "konking out" 15 minutes later, "I hear something," which was de Rossi moaning. "I get out of bed and I find Portia on the floor on all fours."
She said de Rossi, 48, insisted she was OK, but she told her, "Well, you're OK if you're playing Twister by yourself, but you're not OK. You're on the floor." So they rushed to the ER "and she's in so much pain. And I'm worried about her. And I don't know what's wrong with her because, as you know, I grew up Christian Science, so my best guess was: a demon?"
Initial tests were unclear, so de Rossi was admitted — and DeGeneres couldn't stay because of COVID. "So that's upsetting to me," DeGeneres remembered. "They sent me home and I'm crying." The next morning she got the call that de Rossi needed to have her appendix out.
DeGeneres said later that day, post-surgery, they were texting and de Rossi was "in a lot of pain." The Arrested Development actress wasn't able to get more pain meds without doctor authorization, so she jokingly tried to bribe the nurse with tickets to DeGeneres's talk show. (It didn't work.)
However, "I am happy to report Portia is feeling much better now," DeGeneres said. "She's home. She came home late yesterday. Not all of her —she left her appendix a the hospital," which the comedian joked that she was going to auction off.
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