After 14 years, E!’s long-running series, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” aired its final episode on Thursday — representing the end of an era in more ways than one.
Although ratings have lagged compared to earlier years, viewership certainly 'kept up' during the show's final run. According to the latest TV data from LG Ads, season 20 attracted more total viewers (Live +DVR) than seasons 18 and 19 — with viewership up 16% and 13%, respectively.
The family is set to reunite next week for a special 2-part reunion episode hosted by Andy Cohen.
Kim Kardashian West announced the end of the unicorn reality series last fall, after 20 headline-inducing seasons. At the time, Kardashian posted her gratitude on Instagram, thanking fans "who’ve watched us for all of these years – through the good times, the bad times, the happiness, the tears, and the many relationships and children."
But this isn't the end of the Kardashian-Jenner empire.
Disney (DIS) announced in December that it has teamed up with the famous family for an exclusive, multiyear deal that will allow the Kardashians to create “global content that will stream exclusively on Hulu [Disney has a majority stake in the platform] in the U.S.,” and abroad on the company’s Star platform by late 2021.
All five sisters — Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie — along with mother Kris, are expected to star in the upcoming series.
Various reports have said the cast wanted a salary increase (which led to the decision to leave E!), so all signs point to a big payday at Hulu. At the moment, Disney has not yet revealed the financial stipulations of the agreement.
The last deal that E! inked with the family was for a reported $100 million back in 2017, according to Variety.
Demise of Peak TV?
“Keeping Up with the Kardashians” premiered in 2007 — a poignant time in peak TV history.
It was the year The CW’s “Gossip Girl” and AMC’s “Made Men” made their grand debuts while “The Sopranos” and “The O.C” aired their final episodes.
At the time, Disney’s “High School Musical 2” became the most-watched made-for-cable movie in history with over 17 million viewers, while 7.4 million people tuned in to watch the now-cancelled Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on CBS.
For an extra dose of nostalgia, it was also the year that reality start (and the future U.S. president) Donald Trump went head-to-head with Vince McMahon on WWE's “The Battle of the Billionaires” (spoiler alert: Trump won.)
Cable TV was once a cherished form of at-home entertainment. But fast forward a decade and a half later, the media landscape is much different — and consumers have a lot more choices to juggle.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey, the share of U.S. adults who say they watch television via cable or satellite has plunged from 76% in 2015, to 56% currently.
Additionally, among those who do not currently subscribe to cable or satellite TV, 61% report that they had done so in the past, while 39% say they have never been subscribers.
Meanwhile, social media and viral TikTok challenges continue to reign supreme — with reality stars (like the Kardashians) often at the forefront.
Currently, each of the ‘KarJenner’ sisters have amassed well over 100 million followers on Instagram alone — providing fans continuous, up-to-the-minute updates, versus the much lengthier process of waiting week-by-week for new episodes to air on E!
Furthermore, ratings peaked at 4.8 million during the Season 4 finale in February 2010, according to Nielsen. The most recent seasons haven't even come close.
All of which suggests the Kardashians don’t need E! to be successful. They just need to meet fans where they are — which these days is mostly on social media and streaming services — and networks are beginning to grapple with the same reality.
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect the latest “Keeping Up with the Kardashians" viewership data
Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193