The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show saw a big drop in viewership in the wake of exec’s controversial comments about transgender models

  • Viewership numbers dropped substantially for this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
  • According to data from ABC, which broadcast the show, 3.3 million people tuned in to watch on Sunday evening. That was down from five million viewers in 2017 and 6.7 million in 2016, when the show aired on CBS.
  • The lower viewership comes after an executive from Victoria’s Secret‘s parent company, L Brands, came under fire for making controversial comments about transgender and plus-size models in an interview with Vogue.

This year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show didn’t get quite the fanfare it had gotten in the past, at least when it comes to viewership.

According to data sent to Business Insider from ABC, the network that ran the show, 3.3 million people tuned in to watch the fashion show on Sunday evening. This was a substantial drop from 5 million viewers in 2017 and 6.7 million in 2016, when it previously aired on CBS.

These lower viewership numbers come after an executive from Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, came under fire for making controversial comments about the show and the possibility of using transgender and plus-size models.

Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of L Brands, said in an interview with Vogue that he didn’t think the company’s annual fashion show should feature “transsexuals” because “the show is a fantasy.”

“It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is,” he said in the interview.

“It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us.”

Razek’s comments sparked an outcry online, which later led to Razek issuing a formal apology.

Competitors also weighed in on the debate. ThirdLove cofounder and CEO Heidi Zak, who has been openly critical of Victoria’s Secret in the past, ran a full-page ad in The New York Times slamming Razek’s comments.

Read more:Your show may be a “fantasy” but we live in reality’: Lingerie startup ThirdLove slams Victoria’s Secret exec in full-page New York Times ad

“I was appalled when I saw the demeaning comments about women your Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, made to Vogue last week,” Zak wrote in the ad.

She continued: “I’ve read and re-read the interview at least 20 times, and each time I read it I’m even angrier. How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company – let alone one that claims to be for women – make such shocking, derogatory statements?”

Singer Halsey, who performed on the show, also criticised Razek’s comments in an Instagram post on Sunday evening, saying that she “simply cannot ignore” what was said.

“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have no tolerance for a lack of inclusivity. Especially not one motivated by stereotype,” she wrote in the post.

Victoria’s Secret has struggled in recent years as sales have slipped, and it has been accused of alienating core customers with oversexualized ads in stores. Same-store sales numbers at its brick-and-mortar stores are down 5% so far in 2018 and flat overall.

Once the kingpin of the US lingerie market, Victoria’s Secret has increasingly lost market share to more body-positive brands such as American Eagle’s Aerie, which has seen explosive growth in recent years.

In November, Victoria’s Secret Lingerie CEO Jan Singer stepped down from the company. She is being replaced by John Mehas, who is currently president of Tory Burch.