Ellen DeGeneres announced Thursday that she has COVID-19 — luckily she is “feeling fine right now” though her daytime talk show is going on hiatus until 2021 — but she seems to have bigger problems behind the scenes of the TV program.
A new report from BuzzFeed News says that The Ellen DeGeneres Show continues to be impacted by workplace toxicity claims. While Ellen DeGeneres apologized amid the explosive allegations, which sparked an investigation, and several execs were ousted, the show is losing advertisers, some celebrities are staying away and ratings are down, the report claims.
The news outlet spoke with a current employee of the show, now in its 18th season, who said the show and its digital content have fewer advertisers and sponsors compared to past years, a shift that took place over the summer as the scandal unfolded. The employee claims staffers aren’t creating as much new content because there is less ad revenue — pointing to fewer sponsored posts on social media this year versus last — and editors have taken to recycling video clips from past seasons. (A second source collaborated these claims, according to the news site.)
The employee claimed it’s reflective in the show’s “12 Days of Giveaways” segments.
“In a typical year, ‘12 Days of Giveaways’ is huge,” the employee said. “We’ve basically claimed Christmas on daytime TV. When you think of Christmas on TV, you think of The Ellen Show. Everyone wants to be in the audience. Everyone wants the gifts. And so we line up all these crazy sponsors, and people love it. But this year, our ‘12 Days’ is more condensed. We don’t have as many sponsors.”
Show reps declined to comment for BuzzFeed News’s story — and to Yahoo Entertainment when we reached out — but a source close to the show denied “12 Days of Giveaways” is struggling over sponsorship, saying that it’s actually due to the pandemic. In the past, the show gave away great trips, but this year there are travel restrictions due to COVID restrictions.
It’s “not a reflection on [DeGeneres] or the business, but that’s directly impacted by the state of the world and the kind of show that’s being done now,” the show source said.
The employee source also claimed the show is struggling to book A-list guests. While there has been no shortage of talent — recent guests including Justin Bieber and various KarJenners — multiple publicists in the entertainment industry told the outlet they aren’t booking as many clients because, as one said, they don’t want them to be a part of DeGeneres’s “comeback tour.”
One publicist said, “I wouldn’t set up anyone on her show right now to do anything that could possibly cause them more negative headlines. You have to tread so carefully with your clients and your clients’ reputations, so you don't want to put your client in any line of fire sympathizing with someone that any community or anyone would feel bad about. We’re not going to align anyone with Ellen.”
A second publicist said this started even before the scandal, saying in their opinion the show “lost its authenticity a long time ago... It’s a place that’s very manufactured for [Bieber’s and Ariana Grande’s manager] Scooter Braun or for Kim Kardashian’s family to say whatever they wanted. It became something manufactured as opposed to something more authentic, which it used to be.”
Another publicist said that with show ratings being down — in October, it was reported they had declined 38 percent from last season — it isn’t a top choice as it once was. Plus, there are many other fresher options, like Kelly Clarkson’s and Drew Barrymore’s shows.
“The feedback we’ve been getting is that Ellen is no longer a first choice for talent,” another publicist said. “It’s not unique to one person. We’ve received feedback from other publicists as well as talent. Nobody likes feeling this emotional betrayal from someone who literally built a brand on niceness.”
The source close to the show pooh-poohed this as well, saying the ratings are reflective of an overall drop in live broadcast TV ratings, not just this show.
DeGeneres is locked in as show host through 2022, per a deal she signed in 2019. But for the next few weeks, she will be at home quarantining due to COVID-19. In a message posted to social media on Thursday, she wrote, “Anyone who has been in close contact with me has been notified, and I am following all proper CDC guidelines. I’ll see you all again after the holidays. Please stay healthy and safe.”
As far as the popular daytime show goes, a spokesperson tells Yahoo Entertainment, “Following Ellen’s announcement this morning, we have paused production on The Ellen DeGeneres Show until January.”
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: