How Hulu’s ‘The Kardashians’ Fits Into the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ Media Landscape

Roll out the red carpet. “The Kardashians” is about to arrive.

The new series, which will air on Hulu (DIS), is set to make its long-awaited debut on Thursday. Disney first unveiled its exclusive multi-year deal with the family in December 2020.

All five sisters — Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall, and Kylie — along with mother Kris, will return to the small screen, in addition to some new faces like Kourtney’s fiancé (and kind of husband) Travis Barker.

“We had so much free time, we kind of walked into our own worlds,” Kim said in the viral trailer. “I’m excited for this new chapter. I’ve been in the game long enough to know it’s enough to be yourself.”

If you want to keep up with the Kardashians, you don’t do it on cable…Robert Thompson, television and pop culture professor at Syracuse University

The upcoming debut comes after the end of E!’s long-running reality series, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” which aired its final episode in June 2021 after 14 years and 20 headline-grabbing seasons.

Various reports indicated that the cast wanted a raise (which led to the decision to leave E!).

According to Variety, the family will earn a whopping 9-figure salary at Hulu. The latest offer that E! inked was for $100 million in 2017.

Hulu’s ‘The Kardashians’ will debut on April 14

The famous family has also doubled down to remain a relevant force in today’s media landscape.

Currently, each of the ‘KarJenner’ sisters has amassed over 100 million followers on Instagram (FB) alone – providing fans with continuous, up-to-the-minute updates, compared to the much longer process of waiting week after week. for new episodes airing on E!

In fact, that long delay is part of what made the Hulu deal so appealing, as streaming often allows for a tighter delay.

“We wanted it to be as current as possible,” Kim told Variety. “We hated how long we had to wait. It was like the death of us, because once we got over something, we had to rehash it all over again.”

The ratings for “KUWTK” also began to drop as fans embraced social media and kept up to date with the drama in real time. The ratings peaked at 4.8 million in the Season 4 finale in February 2010, according to Nielsen. The last few seasons haven’t even come close.

“If you want to keep up with the Kardashians, you don’t do it on cable,” Robert Thompson, professor of television and pop culture at Syracuse University, told Yahoo Finance.

“Streaming is now the test kitchen for all exciting new shows,” he continued.

Anthony Palomba, professor of business administration at UVA’s Darden School of Business, agrees, adding, “The Kardashians are held in such high esteem. How do you continue to be on the highest pedestal? They probably have nowhere to go.”

Yet Hulu offers a mutually beneficial arrangement: the family can stay up-to-date and accessible on a notable streaming service, while Hulu gets — not just one of Hollywood’s biggest brands — but a very sought.

“In the streaming wars, people are looking for live content,” Palomba said, referring to the bifurcation that’s happening in cable TV as networks rely on live sports and news programming. .

“Why? Because people will see them when they air. People are very unlikely to delay watching a newscast or sports program…Reality TV is similar because of its perishable nature,” continued the professor.

He added, “Since these women are living in real time, you have to watch in time or you’ll fall behind…that calls for an appointment on time.”

Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala - Met Gala - Camp: Notes on Fashion- Arrivals - New York City, US –  May 6, 2019 - Corey Gamble, Kris Jenner, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala – Met Gala – Camp: Notes on Fashion – Arrivals – New York, U.S. – May 6, 2019 – Corey Gamble, Kris Jenner, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Disney recently revealed that ABC’s long-running reality competition series “Dancing with the Stars” will be moving to Disney+ after 15 years – another example of streamers aiming to connect more with subscribers and pull more live content on the platforms.

Additionally, Netflix (NFLX) has had major hits with its own reality series, from “The Circle” and “Selling Sunset” to the more recent “Love is Blind” and “The Ultimatum.”

“We are in a period of survival of the fittest,” revealed Palomba. “We see this with streaming wars where premium content, especially content that can be easily identified with the parent streaming company, is huge.”

Hulu, best known for the critically acclaimed “The Handsmaid’s Tale,” hasn’t had as much major franchise content as its competitors.

“It’s such a great opportunity for Hulu to segment itself as part of the pop culture zeitgeist,” the UVA professor said, explaining that at least at this point in the streaming wars, it’s It’s more about individual programs than the overall service.

“There is so much going on in the market that people have to feel like they to have to subscribe to something,” Palomba said, pointing out that perishable content not only forces consumers to constantly engage, but also provides a steady stream of subscriber data that can be used over time.

Overall, “The Kardashians demonstrate very quickly that they continue to influence the cultural zeitgeist on a level that most people cannot conceive or perceive,” Palomba said, referring to the various brands of billion dollars and the development agreements the family has created over the years. time, in addition to their reality TV dominance.

End of Peak TV?

“Keeping Up with the Kardashians” premiered in 2007 – a poignant time in television history.

It was the year The CW’s “Gossip Girl” and AMC’s “Mad Men” made their big debuts, while “The Sopranos” and “The OC” 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 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, now canceled, on CBS.

For an added dose of nostalgia, this was also the year the reality began (and future US President) Donald Trump faced Vince McMahon on WWE’s “The Battle of the Billionaires” (spoiler alert: Trump won .)

Cable TV was once a beloved form of home entertainment — and ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ was one of the many programs that helped make broadcast networks exciting.

But a decade and a half later, the media landscape is very different – ​​and consumers have a lot more choices to juggle with streaming now at the forefront.

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, the share of American adults who report watching television via cable or satellite has dropped from 76% in 2015 to 56% in 2021.

All of this suggests the Kardashians don’t need E! to succeed. They just need to meet fans where they are – which these days is mostly on social media and streaming services – and the networks are starting to grapple with the same reality.

In addition to the end of “Keeping up the Kardashians” and the removal of “Dancing with the Stars,” cable will soon take another hit with the conclusion of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

DeGeneres announced the end of her nearly two-decade-long daytime talk show last year. The final episode is scheduled for May 26, 2022.

“These shows ending are important because they are different types of programming that have been around for a long time in different ways and to varying degrees,” Elana Levine, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, told Yahoo Finance. .

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 07: 2021 PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS -- Pictured: Ellen DeGeneres accepts The Daytime Talk Show of 2021 award for 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' onstage during the 2021 People's Choice Awards held at Barker Hangar

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 07: 2021 PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS — Pictured: Ellen DeGeneres accepts The Daytime Talk Show of 2021 award for ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ onstage during the 2021 People’s Choice Awards held at Barker Hangar

“But in terms of sheer quantity and quantity of TV, I’m not so sure we’re going to go down. On the contrary, I think we’re growing as more and more streaming platforms come in,” he said. -she adds.

Levine argues that while the quantity has not diminished, there has been “a shift” in programming, particularly around traditional cable television.

“We’ve seen shifts away from traditional TV and cable TV over the last 5 years or so as streaming becomes more prominent,” Levine explained. She added that the change gave streamers better access.

“Right now, there’s still an audience for conventional cable types, but more and more people are accessing programming through other means. That’s what seems to be changing the most drastically,” a- she declared.

Palomba added that he wasn’t sure what else cable could do to rebound or combat shifting consumer attention, suggesting some offerings may need to reevaluate their future in the space.

“Some of these cable channels may have to really consider whether or not they want to be bought out to add value to something else, like joining a streaming service as part of a library,” he suggested. .

“These are smaller fish – and it looks like all the smaller fish are being eaten.”

Alexandra is a senior entertainment and food reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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