What Killed ‘The Chew’: Low Ratings, or the Sexual Misconduct Accusations Against Mario Batali?

Or did ABC cooking/talk show simply choke on a combination of both?

The Chew
ABC/ Pawel Kaminski

“The Chew” just got spit out.

ABC said on Wednesday that it is canceling the daytime cooking series after seven seasons, making room for a third hour of “Good Morning America” (which ironically will not take place in the morning). When we asked, a person with knowledge of the decision to turn off the food-and-talk format’s pilot light pointed TheWrap toward “business reasons,” and steered us away from those Mario Batali sexual misconduct accusations.

Let’s explore that.

This season versus last, “The Chew” was down 3 percent among total viewers, per Nielsen, with its episodic average of 2.425 million audience members comparing unfavorably to 2016-17’s 2.508 million.

Unfortunately, that was just the tip of the chef’s knife.

Among women 18-49, the daytime series dropped 13 percent in Nielsen ratings, falling from a 0.60 to a 0.52, on average. That number was bad enough to rank “The Chew” 13th out of 13 network daytime shows — yeah, dead last.

The ratings decline was particularly bad among millennial women, a demo that shed 21 percent (from a 0.34 rating to a 0.27) of viewers year over year. The show ranked 11th out of 13 among 18-34-year-old women — the same spot it occupied in terms of total viewers.

Those figures are hard to swallow for any executive. “Business reasons”? Check.

But then there’s still the matter of Mario.

Batali served as one of the show’s co-hosts since its inception in 2011, until numerous women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against the chef in early/mid December and he was asked to step aside.

Did the accusations — or just the lack of Batali’s ponytail and Crocs on-camera — hurt the show’s ratings? Not as far as we can tell, no.

Before the week of December 11, which is when the accusations against Batali first surfaced, “The Chew’s” Live + 7 Day season averages were 319,000 women 18-49 and 456,000 women 25-54. Since then, they’ve been extremely close, drawing 320,000 and 447,000 viewers, respectively.

By the way, “The Chew” peaked in its third season, when 509,000 women 18-49 and 660,000 women 25-54 tuned in to the show.

Clearly, it’s not 2013-14 anymore.

So what’s all that mean? While sexual misconduct accusations are certainly not what a show wants to be associated with, we’re comfortable chalking up ABC serving this run as “The Chew’s” final course to — yes, we’ll say it again — “business reasons.”

Hosted by celebrity chefs Michael Symon and Carla Hall and “entertaining expert” Clinton Kelly, “The Chew” is produced by Gordon Elliott’s Chew Productions. The show has received six Daytime Emmy nominations, including a 2016 win for Outstanding Talk Show, Informative.

Before it flames out, “The Chew” will air new episodes from June through September.