Viewership for the E! reality show reportedly fell below 1 million earlier this year, even with an attentive audience in quarantine. Yet the Kardashian-Jenner family members ending their long-running reality show won't really matter since they have robust social media followings, with Kim Kardashian's 188 million Instagram followers, Kylie Jenner's 195 million and Kendall Jenner's 139 million. "With those kind of numbers, who needs television?" says Constance Grady. At this point, says Grady, it's "clear that the Kardashians have outgrown their reality show platform. For 13 years, Keeping up With the Kardashians has operated less as the center of the family business and more as an advertisement for the family’s many operations. And now, the Kardashian-Jenners have hit a point where they no longer need that ad." Grady adds: "The Kardashian business strategy is to leverage the family celebrity and all the attention that comes with it to sell to brands. And when Keeping up With the Kardashians launched in 2007, it was the architect of the family’s fame. It was how they sold stuff...But in 2020, Keeping Up With the Kardashians isn’t where the serious numbers are anymore."
Kanye West's mental health, E!'s coronavirus-related financial woes and a Kardashian cash grab reportedly helped seal Keeping Up with the Kardashian's fate: "We’re told that matters came to a head because of a number of factors, including a West’s ongoing mental health struggles," reports Page Six. "Insiders said that Kim Kardashian already had reservations about exposing West’s bipolar battle to the viewing public. And she’s recently begged the 'media and public to have compassion and empathy' during his latest bouts — so teeing up storylines around the illness would’ve rung as hypocritical. And leaving West out of the show — as they could have done as the show’s executive producers — would have left fans feeling cheated. Meanwhile, E!’s parent company, NBCUniversal, has been hard hit financially by COVID, and E! just lost its other flagship show E! News in the economic fallout. Sources said that when the Kardashians had floated their exit in the past, E! was able to dangle ever-larger checks to bring them back — but this time, the pockets aren’t so deep."
How Keeping Up with the Kardashians changed everything: The E! reality show made celebrities of a regular-rich family, helped build a multi-brand empire, set new and unrealistic standards of beauty, gave America language to talk about transitions thanks to Caitlyn Jenner, showed another side of Kanye West, created a power broke in Kim Kardashian and shaped reality TV as we know it, according to The New York Times. "At this point, we all know that the reality we see on reality TV is not real. But when Keeping Up With The Kardashians premiered in 2007, the lines were a little more opaque," says Lindsey Underwood. "It was around the time of Laguna Beach, and The Hills, shows famous for making viewers question whether it all was scripted. There were the youths on the The Real World who weren’t going to be polite anymore and The Real Housewives wrecking havoc on Orange County. But then came the Kardashians — sharing their worst moments (cheating, sex tapes, robberies) and their best (weddings, births, brands). Of course, we knew. We knew this was all a karefully kreated koncoction. You can’t kontrol everything. Real parts of their lives started to reveal themselves through social media and the celebrity news media. Maybe it’s better to keep up with them there. The question now for most of these shows and the stars they spawned is what they provide that we can’t see for free in real time. Surely they will find a way."
Caitlyn Jenner learned KUWTK was ending from the news: "Nobody called me, I heard it through the media. Was I surprised? No," she says. "But that show, it’s probably the greatest reality show in history. There are over 500 episodes over 14 years. Shows do come and go, and this one is by far the best of any reality show in history, and at some point, it is going to come to an end. I wasn’t surprised but I just am so proud of the kids for doing such a great job over the years."