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Paula Deen's Food Network ratings had taken hit before controversy

Paula Deen's Food Network ratings had taken hit before controversy
Smithfield dropped Paula Deen, who endorsed its line of hams and other pork products. (Associated Press)

Ratings for Paula Deen, who was booted off the Food Network last week after it was revealed that she has used racial epithets, had taken a big dip this year before the controversy errupted.

According to Nielsen, the audience for "Paula's Favorite Dishes" had shrunk almost 25% in 2013 to 835,000 viewers from 1.1 million viewers in 2012.

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It was a similar story among the 25-54 demographic, which was her show's sweet spot. In that category, Dean's numbers fell 32% from 446,000 viewers last year to 304,000 this year.

Whether the declining ratings also played into Food Network's decision not to renew Deen's contract despite her apology is unknown. The channel has declined to elaborate on its decision. Deen is scheduled to appear on NBC's "Today" on Wednesday.

Though Deen is one of the network's most visible personalities, "Paula's Favorite Dishes" is far from Food Network's highest rated shows. "Food Network Star" averages close to 3 million viewers and "Rachel vs. Guy" averages 2.2 million viewers.

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