The Kardashians Shift Gears: The End of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”


“Keeping Up With the Kardashians” is finally ending. (Courtesy of Facebook)

The Kardashian family announced last week on social media that their show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” will air its 20th and final season in 2021. This announcement led to a stream of rumors about why they would be ending such a successful show. The Kardashian empire stretches far beyond this single show, and there is no doubt they will continue their pop culture reign. 

Kim Kardashian made the cancelation announcement via Instagram on Wednesday, Sept. 9 with minimal explanation. The vagueness of the post spawned hundreds of different rumors, which ranged from contract disputes to Kanye’s failing mental health. However, it mostly came down to the fact that there are other, more lucrative business options for the family. A source told Us Weekly the family can “make a ton more for a lot less hassle.” 

According to Page Six, E!, the show’s network has struggled  during the pandemic, as several of their shows have been canceled. As more and more shows move to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, there is not the same demand for cable television shows as there was 14 years ago when “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” first aired. Additionally, with social media, everyone knows what the Kardashians are doing long before it is shown on air, so the excitement of tuning into the show each Sunday has been lost. 

In 2017, the Kardashians signed a contract with E! for $150 million to continue the show for the next four years. While this may seem like a large sum, Kylie Jenner — the youngest Kardashian sister — alone usually makes over $1 million per sponsored post on her Instagram. The Kardashians are hardly fading into oblivion;they still have a massive media presence. However,producing an entire show is no longer the most efficient way to keep the paychecks coming. 

The Kardashians have been able to continue their popularity for so long because they are incredibly talented at selling themselves. They are able to portray themselves as not only rich and famous, but also entertaining. They are never not in the news, and it doesn’t really matter if you love them or hate them: You know what they are doing. They were able to create an entire industry based solely on their own lives. We currently live in an era of social media influencers that dominate the advertisement industry. The key skill these influencers must have is the ability to market themselves for a profit, a skill the Kardashians mastered 14 years ago. All of the Kardashian sisters have over 100 million followers on Instagram, which means they already have the platform to make money without the show, as influencers. 

Social media advertisements are so effective because they trick the consumer into thinking they are buying something trustworthy. They feel like they know the person selling it to them. People are more inclined to buy something that Kim Kardashian is holding in her hand and talking about than an ad being run between segments of the show. We like Kim, so we want to buy what she says she uses and loves. That is the power of the social media influencer era we currently live in: The Kardashian dynasty can thrive with or without the show because they have been preparing for this era far longer than anyone else. 

In addition to sponsoring other companies products, the Kardashian sisters have launched their own businesses that keep their income growing. They have numerous business ventures ranging from clothing to makeup to skincare. If they had launched these businesses without their status, they would have just been another overpriced cosmetic line on the shelf, but their ability to market themselves has worked to their advantage once again. People buy Kylie’s lipstick not because it is high quality, but because it is Kylie’s lipstick. The same day that the Kardashians released the news that they would be ending the show, three of the sisters announced the launch of a new fragrance collection for KKW Fragrance. Just like any other product they have created, this line will sell because they are still relevant. It is no coincidence that this line was released while every tabloid had the Kardashian name in their headlines. All the family has to do is stay in the media, and they will continue to profit off of overpriced products indefinitely. 

When “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” was first aired, the idea of a social media influencer did not exist, but the Kardashian family curated the skills that they would later need to dominate the field. They have made an empire out of simply existing. Their fame and publicity allows them to make a profit with or without the show. Just because “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is ending does not mean the family’s reign is over. They are simply shifting their business model to fit the current state of entertainment and advertising.