The announcement came down today that Ellen DeGeneres will be ending her talk show after 19 seasons. The show’s host insists the decision is not connected to the scandal which erupted about the show last summer when accusations came out about the abusive atmosphere behind the scenes involving the producers and the treatment of the staff.

She began this season addressing the controversy, something that has been festering in her production for a long period, seemingly with little intervention from her on behalf of the aggrieved staffers. Ellen was unable to shake the impression of permissiveness on her part, and the show has suffered as a result of the public fallout.

As she makes the announcement she insists this was a decision made years back, but that does not explain the sudden announcement to her staff yesterday. What also does not link up is that she has not declared what she intends to do after the show ends next year.

Her claim is she is ending this because, ”I’m a creative person, and when you’re a creative person you constantly need to be challenged.” She continues with, ”And as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore. I need something new to challenge me.”

This is why her announced end this week seems directly driven by the fallout of the reports of a toxic workplace. The creativity claim is well and good, except she has nothing new in the works. It would appear that normally for this to be the rationale to end things you would have an outlet for that creativity in mind.

Instead, there is ample evidence that the show has been severely impacted, and possibly this is a case of a production that sees no repair for the damage already wrought. Here are the indicators.

 

Ratings

When that first show of the season went live ”Ellen” put up some impressive numbers. People turned out to see both what had gone wrong, and how she would repair things. The audience’s response has not been kind. Since then the top-rated daytime show saw a loss of over 1 million viewers, a drop of more than -40%. This response has also been experienced in Ellen’s primetime game show, ”Ellen’s Game Of Games”, which also saw a drop of -33%.

That plunge in the ratings added up to tens of millions of dollars in lost ad revenue. As a result the production has felt the loss, as there is less of an operating budget to work with, meaning show content has suffered. This becomes a spiraling problem, with a show becoming less enticing, leading to even more of an audience loss.

 

     Sponsor Flight

To go along with the drop in ad revenue there are fewer ads being brought in. The highly promoted ”12 Days of Giving”, Ellen’s Christmastime giveaway extravaganza, saw a diminished amount of participating companies. This past year the main event was mostly underwritten by a lone company, Hyundai. Also reflecting this departure of support was the show’s Instagram page. Where they had the year earlier seen a number of companies sponsoring pages on the show’s account, that number had dropped to just two sponsors, one being Hyundai.

 

Celebrity Resistance

One of the hallmarks of ”The Ellen Show” has been her ability to rope in A-list Hollywood talent. Her seemingly intimate relationships with major stars and her breezy demeanor with them made the appearances less canned, as they usually appear on the regimented and scripted late-night talk shows. But after the scandal, she has seen less enthusiasm from the celebrities and their publicists. Not only was the toxic nature repelling the talent but with the pandemic shutdown there were far fewer entertainment choices being released to promote, so the need to go on and promote something was removed. Appearing on her program was seen as only a risk to reputations, with no upside potential.

 

All of this seems to lead to the result of calling for the end of the show. All of the influences seem to be feeding into the problem, making it a growing negative that cannot be turned around. BuzzFeed spoke with an employee last winter before Christmas, who remarked on what the show might be facing as far as its fortunes.

This feels like our make-it-or-break-it moment. This will be our biggest report card. If we pick up sponsors by the new year, then we’re cooking, we’ll be fine, and we’ll sell kindness in a bottle. But if we fail that report card, who knows.”

It certainly appears that they now know. By the looks of things, it would appear that the reality is the complete opposite of what Ellen is stating as the reason to leave. Claiming the show is no longer a challenge seems in conflict with what has been happening — it looks as if the challenge is far too great to overcome.