Two months in the return of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, they are losing advertisers, not able to book A-list celebrities, and have a decline in ratings during what is usually the busiest time of the year according to sources with knowledge on the situation.
This comes after an overwhelming amount of reports of a toxic work environment that included sexual harassment. A current employee recently revealed to BuzzFeed News how there has been a massive shift in the show’s digital content as well as advertisers and sponsors compared to years past.
Another source also confirmed the situation to BuzzFeed News (they too declined to be named.) According to the employee, staffers are not able to put out as much new content as a result of less advertising money, so they are recycling old video clips from previous seasons. “We’re trying to be a content house, but we have no content,” the employee said.
Last November 2019, the Ellen Show Instagram account featured 12 sponsored posts from eight different brands but this November, the show’s account featured just six sponsored posts from two different brands: Hologic, a medical device company focusing on women’s health, and Hyundai, which also sponsored this year’s “12 Days of Giveaways.”
In the month of December, usually, it is one The Ellen Show’s busiest and fiscally successful times of the year due to the “12 Days of Giveaways” segments that run on 12 episodes, promoting brands whose products are gifted to audience members.
This year, the show is exclusively giving gifts to frontline workers, first responders, medical workers, and families impacted by COVID-19. But according to a current employee, this year’s gifts do not hold a candle to year’s past.
“In a typical year, ‘12 Days of Giveaways’ is huge. We’ve basically claimed Christmas on daytime TV. When you think of Christmas on TV, you think of The Ellen Show,” a current employee said. “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.”
The employee continued, “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.”
A source who is close to the show revealed how the current “12 Days of Giving” segments reflect “the environment that we’re in” due in part to the pandemic.
“[Ellen’s] not giving away these amazing trips, which were sort of the hallmark of ’12 Days’ over the past few years, sending audiences to amazing places. There are travel restrictions and she’s giving gifts that are appropriate for the world right now,” the source said. “Maybe it looks and feels differently, but that’s not a reflection on her or the business, but that’s directly impacted by the state of the world and the kind of show that’s being done now.”
“For the first time, everyone was starting to ask us, ‘If you have an idea, tell us because we will listen. If you have an idea for a celeb, even if they’re not A-list or famous, we’ll take anyone who will bring us numbers and eyeballs,’” the employee said. “That’s when they started to be real with us and essentially said, ‘Give us anything because we need help.’ Our old strategy doesn’t work anymore.”
Publicists who work in the industry informed BuzzFeed News they are not booking as many of their clients on the daytime talk show.
In addition, many have specifically said they do not want to appear on the show — even over videoconference or have anything to do with “her comeback tour.”
“I wouldn’t set up anyone on her show right now to do anything that could possibly cause them more negative headlines,” one publicist informed BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity. “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.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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