Internal research has shown that for the first time, Ellen DeGeneres has higher likability ratings than Oprah, just in time for the latter's retirement from daytime.
Per The New York TImes' Brian Stelter:
Why? Because her hourlong show is upbeat and inspirational, two traits that appeal to daytime's core female audience, according to the studies, which TV executives rely on as they make decisions. Equally important, the 52-year-old Ms. DeGeneres is seen as relaxed and relatable.
Of course, about twice as many people watch Oprah's show over Ellen's, but for television executives looking for glimmers of hope, Ellen is it. This week, NBC renewed its contract with her through 2014, despite talk that she would take on Oprah's spot on ABC. Stelter reports that Oprah tried to get Ellen on her channel, OWN, but no such luck.
And there's her success as an American Idol judge, which was widely seen to boost ratings. So much for the theory advanced by Gary McCullough, director of Christian Newswire, last month:
Like it or not, the multi-talented DeGeneres is more known for her same-sex sexual preference than any expertise in the music business. The most visible change in the show is one more step in making sexuality the prime topic when discussing American Idol.
Call them ignorant, homophobic, whatever, the fact remains that fewer families will view the upcoming Idol season because young girls and their traditional families are uncomfortable with the topic of homosexuality. I am confident that the producers of American Idol will be shocked when their market share has cratered, and will in all honesty find a dozen other reasons for the drop in ratings. After all, what successful television producer could have a clue what wholesomeness is as long as they see promoting homosexuality as a virtue.
Instead, the show got impressive ratings that shook it out of a two-year rut. Maybe Frank Rich is right: most of America isn't as narrow or bigoted as certain right-wingers would have them be. He argued that homosexuality was no longer an effective wedge issue for the right because
As more gay people have come out - a process that accelerated once the modern gay rights movement emerged from the Stonewall riots of 1969 - so more heterosexuals have learned that they have gay relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers and co-workers. It is hard to deny our own fundamental rights to those we know, admire and love.
Or is Ellen — like Oprah was at times thought to be — an example only of herself?
DeGeneres a Rising Star in Daytime [NYT]
Idol's New Judge Will Lose Middle America [Christian News Wire]
Debut Of Ellen DeGeneres On 'American Idol' Buoys Ratings [WaPo]
Related: Smoke The Bigots Out Of The Closet [NYT]