Things are not looking good for Ellen DeGeneres. For years, rumors have swirled that daytime TV’s “kindest” host is actually kind of a nightmare to work with—and this year, former employees spoke out about the show’s alleged behind-the-scenes toxicity in a series of reports that launched a formal investigation, which ended with the removal of three producers.
And now that DeGeneres has officially returned to screen—both in her syndicated program and her NBC game show—it appears her viewers have not been quick to follow her back.
DeGeneres’ daytime viewership for her first full week back delivered a 29 percent drop in viewership compared to the same week last September, The Wrap reports. And based on preliminary numbers, the audience for Ellen’s Game of Games fell by 40 percent from its Season 3 premiere in January. (As The Wrap notes, the NBC show did not air episodes last fall, so it’s impossible to compare year-over-year as one normally would.)
Viewers did tune in for DeGeneres’ first episode back at her daytime home on September 21, which netted a 1.6 rating, per The Wrap. But by Friday of that week the audience had already dwindled to a paltry .9 rating—indicating that people likely tuned in to watch DeGeneres apologize and have since lost interest.
As the controversy first erupted this summer, some celebrities and former staffers alleged that beyond the show’s producers, DeGeneres herself was part of the problem. But many celebrity defenders rose to her aid—often emphasizing that, well, Ellen had never been mean to them...
DeGeneres herself, meanwhile, was said to be “crushed” by the allegations over the summer and apologized to staff in July with a note that promised to “push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow.”
It’s long been obvious that DeGeneres has a lot of work to do if she’d like to restore her sunny image; these numbers only further solidify how much work lies ahead.