“The Talk” has been talking to a smaller audience since co-host Sharon Osbourne split from the CBS daytime series in late March.
Prior to Osbourne’s departure, from the season premiere on Sept. 21, 2020 through March 14, “The Talk” was bringing in an average of 1.509 million daily viewers. The show then went into four weeks of reruns while everyone awaited Osbourne’s employment fate following an on-air spat with colleague Sheryl Underwood.
Since the repeats, “The Talk” originals without Osbourne averaged 1.305 million total viewers from April 12 through May 16, a loss of 204,000 each day, a 14% drop.
Over (basically) the same period of time, key competitor “The View,” which started its own season nine days earlier than “The Talk,” fell from an from averaging 2.978 million viewers per episode to 2.490 million, a decrease of 488,000 daily viewers, or 16%.
While the ABC daytime show’s spring decline appears slightly worse on a percentage basis, “The Talk” was already struggling before Osbourne’s exit. As TheWrap reported early on in the show’s hiatus, “The Talk” was already down 27% in viewers from the prior season. At the same time, “The View” was up 14%.
All told, despite recent audience reductions as the weather warms up — a typical trend in TV viewership across all day parts — “The View” is up year to year in total viewers and No. 1 among daytime network and syndicated news and talk programs.
During “The Talk’s” March 10 show, Osbourne came to the defense of longtime friend Piers Morgan after he was criticized for making disparaging comments about Meghan Markle. Some critics, including Underwood, said Morgan’s words were racially motivated (Markle, whose mother is Black, is biracial), leading to an on-air meltdown in which Osbourne said she felt like she was “about to be put in the electric chair” for having a friend others viewed as a racist.
Soon after the discussion, “The Talk” went on hiatus as CBS launched an internal review into the on-air comments about racism and allegations of racially insensitive behavior behind-the-scenes at the show. A few weeks later, on March 26, Osbourne exited the show.
“The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home. As part of our review, we concluded that Sharon’s behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace,” CBS said in a statement at the time of Osbourne’s exit. “We also did not find any evidence that CBS executives orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the hosts. At the same time, we acknowledge the Network and Studio teams, as well as the showrunners, are accountable for what happened during that broadcast as it was clear the co-hosts were not properly prepared by the staff for a complex and sensitive discussion involving race.”
Osbourne apologized for her behavior during the March 10 show, writing in a lengthy statement on Twitter that she “panicked, felt blindsided, got defensive & allowed my fear & horror of being accused of being racist take over.” However, she has taken a more combative stance in subsequent interviews, blaming the show’s producers for intentionally blindsiding her with the segment about Morgan, calling it “the biggest set up ever” in an interview with ET before her “Talk” exit.
During an episode of Underwood’s podcast, which was released over the weekend as part of a three-installment discussion about Osbourne’s exit from “The Talk,” she said that none of the questions she asked Osbourne that day came from producers or executives. You can read more about that here.
Underwood, Amanda Kloots and Elaine Welteroth are the remaining co-hosts on “The Talk.” Carrie Ann Inaba has taken a leave of absence from the CBS daytime show.