'The View' Sees Ratings Lift in Election Season

'The View' co-hosts with Bernie Sanders

After rounds of co-host musical chairs, new exec producer Candi Carter says the current panel is working as the show returns to politics.

It’s been a turbulent few seasons on ABC’s The View. But on Feb. 23, ABC News president James Goldston announced that the show created by Barbara Walters and imitated by many (CBS’ The Talk overtook The View in the 2014-15 season) has been renewed for a 20th season and that Candi Carter would be the show’s executive producer. 

Carter, a veteran of The Oprah Winfrey Show, inherited the show’s current panel of Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Candace Cameron-Bure, Paula Faris, Michelle Collins and Raven-Symone. (Carter joined the show in September and has been interim exec producer since her predecessor Bill Wolff left.)

She has her work cut out for her. The show saw a steep ratings drop in 2013, leading to multiple seasons of host musical chairs and much hand-wringing about the divisive nature of the show’s political discussions. This season, the show’s 19th, The View seems to have arrested the ratings slide, if it’s still a ways from its high-water mark. In a tumultuous election season, the show has returned to politics.

“I actually think that people tune in for it,” says Carter. “I don’t think it turns them off.”

The View is averaging 2.7 million viewers with 550,000 of them in the female 25-54 demographic. (By contrast, top-rated Dr. Phil pulls in 4.2 million, while The View's lead-out on ABC, Live With Kelly and Michael, is averaging 3.8 million.

“What resonates with audiences is authenticity, fun and television that is kind of smart,” she adds. “I think we’ve gotten that table to the point where they’re having a good time. The conversation is smarter.”

Raven-Symone’s verbal gaffes notwithstanding: She promised to move to Canada if a Republican gets “nominated” for president. “She misspoke,” says Carter. “It’s live TV so you’re allowed to [make a mistake].”

Along with ratings, morale has improved with Carter’s arrival. But it’s too soon to say if the current panel will be in place for the show’s milestone 20th year. Goldberg’s deal expires after the current season, and most of the other co-hosts were only signed for one year. Carter offers a hint though: “We have a long season ahead of us,” she says. “We’ve got a good team. It’s working.”

The show has seen some ratings improvement in recent weeks. How do you build on that momentum?

We really focus a lot on making sure there are different opinions, but [the hosts] agree to disagree. So if you’re at home, it feels good. We really make a conscious effort to connect with people on relationships and family but also do politics. So it’s a combination of really interesting Hot Topics [the show’s signature segment] that take you to the next level. When you have camaraderie, when [the hosts] are having fun and having a smart conversation, you want to kind of hang out and watch it. That for us is our ticket to growth.

It’s obviously a politically divisive era. Yet there is great interest in the election. What do you tell the co-hosts about discussing politics without turning off viewers who may disagree with them?

I’m on Twitter during the entire show. When we start talking politics, Twitter is on fire. People are weighing in as if they’re sitting at the table. So, it never deters us. Our hosts are passionate and the audience gets passionate about it and it works.

Donald Trump had a rocky relationship with previous host Rosie O’Donnell. He’s called in to the show recently. When might we see him on the show?

We’re trying. He was at the Adele concert with Joy and he said he was going to come on. We’d love to have him in here.

This year brought more daytime cancelations, including Meredith Vieira’s expensive NBC show. Why is it so hard to get a foothold in daytime?

The truth of the matter is if you can bottle up authenticity and fun and content that has takeaway, you’ll have a hit show. And that’s really what it comes down to.

You worked with Oprah for many years. What was the most important lesson you learned from her about daytime TV?

There are too many. The Oprah show was a very smart show. But we also had fun and we did a lot of emotional things. I would say the one thing I take away from Oprah that I use in all of television is I just want to feel something. And that’s what I tell my producers.

Will the current team be back next season?

Here’s the thing, this is the panel where the ratings are growing. So the camaraderie is there. We have a long season to go. Things are going well. So at this point, we’ve got a good team.

Is that a yes?

We’ve got a good team. It’s working.

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