Was ‘The View’ More Popular During the Barbara Walters Era?

It’s been nearly 22 years since The View debuted on ABC, so it’s hard to remember a time when the concept didn’t exist. Right away, the show Barbara Walters created, produced, and co-hosted brought favorable reviews and established a loyal audience.

Writing in August 1997, a Times critic said Walters and her staff “deserve full credit for guiding this show in such a smart direction” by putting “smart and accomplished” women front and center. In 1998, it won its first Daytime Emmys, and The View has racked up dozens since.

By the time Walters left as a permanent co-host in 2014, the show had been a fixture on daytime for most of the new century. However, it didn’t perform the same way after the TV icon departed. There were definitely drops in the ratings and speculation the show might get axed by ABC.

Following a comeback in 2017-18, there’s little chance of The View going anywhere. Here’s how the show’s popularity compares during and after the Barbara Walters era.

Low points with Jenny McCarthy and the first loss to ‘The Talk’

‘The View’ celebrates 4000 shows with guest co-hosts Barbara Walters and Joy Behar in 2015. | Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images

In Walters’s final season, Jenny McCarthy joined the cast, and the concept didn’t work. McCarthy didn’t quite have the intellectual heft of some of her co-hosts, and the show also lacked a younger point-of-view. By October of 2014, the Walters-less show was shedding enough viewers to cause concern at ABC.

The following January, The View lost to The Talk for the first time in the ratings since the CBS show’s debut in 2010. At that point, The Hollywood Reporter wondered if it was “on the chopping block.”

However, the departure of Rosie O’Donnell following a five-month return marked the beginning of the turnaround. When Joy Behar came back later in the year, the show regained its footing.

Walters reportedly asked Behar to come back for the show’s sake, and the results spoke for themselves, starting in 2016.

It took until 2017-18 for the new generation to match Walters’s ratings.

Barbara Walters and Cristela Alonzo on ‘The View’ in 2015| Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images

While the combination of Behar and Whoopi Goldberg brought back viewers, the election of Donald Trump gave The View its focus back. The show’s shift to the news division at ABC had finally made sense. Bringing back a young co-host in Meghan McCain also worked.

Once the ratings for the 2017-18 season came in, the show pushed its viewership back to an average of 2.9 million per show. That matched the last year Walters co-hosted prior to the McCarthy debacle of 2012-13.

In October 2018, with the show’s 22nd season underway, The View got back to thumping The Talk in both total audience ratings and in the younger-viewer demographic. That performance continued through the November sweeps.

In summary, the Barbara Walters era was steadier for The View as far as popularity goes, but the current lineup has been as popular as Walters-led shows earlier in the decade.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!