What 'The Ellen Show's' exit says about the future of TV, talk shows

·3-min read

Ellen DeGeneres is ending her eponymous daytime talk show after nearly two decades. 

DeGeneres, who discussed the show's ending with fellow daytime legend Oprah Winfrey on Thursday, said that although she feels like it was "the right thing to do... it's a weird thing to announce that I'm stopping." 

The long-running chat fest, much like the rest of Hollywood these days, has been clouded in controversy after allegations of a "toxic work environment" behind the scenes exploded on social media last year. 

Ellen doubled down on her claim that it is not the controversy that's driving her exit, but rather the lack of a "challenge," explaining that "there's just different things as a creative person that I feel like I need to do." 

LOS ANGELES - MAY 4: The Late Late Show with James Corden airing Tuesday, May 4, 2021, with guest Ellen DeGeneres. (Photo by Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 4: The Late Late Show with James Corden airing Tuesday, May 4, 2021, with guest Ellen DeGeneres. (Photo by Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images)

"The Ellen Show" is not the only long-running program to be exiting our TV screens. E!’s long-running reality unicorn “Keeping Up with the Kardashians" is in the midst of its final season after 14 years on air. 

So is this the end of peak TV as we know it? Not entirely, according to one media expert. 

"These shows ending are significant because they are different kinds of programming that have been around for a long time in various ways and various degrees," University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Professor Elana Levine told Yahoo Finance. 

"But in terms of the pure amount and quantity of television, I'm not so sure we're going down. If anything, I think we're expanding as more and more streaming platforms come to pass," she added.

Levine contends that although quantity has not diminished, there has been "a shift" in programming, particularly around traditional cable television. 

"We’ve seen some shifts away from traditional broadcast TV and cable TV the last 5 years or so as streaming becomes more prominent," Levine explained, and that's given streamers greater access.

"As of now there is still an audience for conventional kinds of cable but more and more people are accessing programming in other ways. That's what seems to be changing most dramatically," she said, 

Traditional cable companies like Discovery, Paramount (VIAC) and NBC (CMCSA) have all started their own streaming services as a supplemental way for consumers to access content — but not as a replacement. 

"These networks are finding ways to reach audiences with some of the same programming that they've long had, but they're now doing it in the new ways that people are accessing TV," the expert said.

Streaming, which quickly accelerated at the start of the pandemic, has somewhat slowed as the economy reopens.

Disney (DIS), for example, added 8.7 million subscribers in the first three months of the year, bringing its total Disney+ subscriber sum to 103.6 million, slightly shy of what Wall Street was hoping for. 

'Midst of transition'

In the face of Ellen DeGeneres' departure, fans have questioned the future of daytime TV in a world dominated by streaming. 

"The end of Ellen's show does not necessarily mean that daytime talk shows are going away," Levine argued, referencing the success of Kelly Clarkson's and Drew Barrymore's daytime programs. 

"Throughout its whole history, television has seen changes come — and the changes are usually more gradual than they are drastic — and I think that we're still in the midst of that transition now," Levine explained.

"But the kind of programs that people are drawn to don't change that drastically over time. People still like to watch a lot of the same kinds of things," she added.  

"We will see those forms change but i don't think that anything will be disappearing any time soon," Levine said.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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