Here’s How Much ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Ratings Have Fallen This Season

Coming into its 28th season (Fall 2019), Dancing With the Stars had a problem. Ratings had fallen over 20% from its previous year, with an even more pronounced drop-off in the valued 18-49 year-old demographic.

That sudden decline led DWTS producers and ABC to look for some sort of way to jumpstart the numbers. But rather than looking for a bigger star to compete this season, the show’s braintrust went with one casting choice that has been lambasted since it got announced.

Against the advice of host Tom Bergeron (and countless others, we imagine), DWTS decided to bring politics to the party by bringing Trump spokesman Sean Spicer aboard. “That ought to stir the pot,” someone must have thought.

But instead of bad publicity turning into good publicity for ABC, DWTS ratings have only sunk further. Here’s how bad it’s gotten compared to recent seasons.

‘DWTS’ ratings have plunged 29.1% since 2017

DANCING WITH THE STARS – The judges’ votes have not seemed to mattered much this season. | ABC/Kelsey McNeal

It’s normal for a network shows that’s survived 28 seasons to see some sort of decline. (Viewer fatigue would be one obvious reason.) But Dancing With the Stars numbers have more than slipped.

Compared to its fall 2017 numbers, this season of DWTS is down 2.7 million viewers per episode. That amounts to a whopping 29.1% plunge over two years. While the biggest part of that drop came in Season 27, it’s clear this year’s edition hasn’t helped.

Overall viewership is down over 500,000 people per show (-7.1%) this time around. In the coveted 18-49 demo, the drop-off has been even worse (-9.7%). In short, if producers thought adding a Trump administration spokesman to the cast would help, they were wrong.

That pick, combined with the voting system that excludes both Mountain and Pacific time zones in 2019, has had the opposite effect of any expected ratings boost.

Viewers under 50 have left the show en masse in recent years

DANCING WITH THE STARS “Dance-Off Week”: Try to spot the 1 person who isn’t moving. | ABC/Kelsey McNeal

While DWTS ratings have fallen substantially across the board, the numbers have positively crashed when it comes to the 18-49 demo. After a 32% falloff in 2018, viewers under 50 have continued to abandon the show. Overall, viewership in this demo is down 38% since 2017.

Is there anything that can bring viewers back to the show? That’s the age-old question for any program in its second decade. But one thing is certain: Viewers are not energized by figures representing the least popular president in history. (Younger viewers want to see politics on DWTS even less.)

Of course, we wouldn’t even be writing this article after this season’s eighth week if the show’s voting system weren’t so poorly designed. By allowing audience votes in half the country to override all other concerns, DWTS got itself a season with bad dancing featured front-and-center.

Week after week, longtime DWTS fans have cringed along with the judges as the worst performer has stayed alive. And, according to the numbers, plenty have decided to simply watch something else. That’s what they call lose-lose.

(All ratings sourced at TV Series Finale.)

Also see: Why Does ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Voting Exclude America’s Biggest State?