E! has made big business of all things Kardashian. Can it extend this relationship further -- through thick and thin?
Only your favorite advertising knows for sure.
Reality favorites featuring the sisters who are famous for being famous -- Kim and Kourtney -- have already made their mark on the TV world. They have given E! some of its biggest TV ratings ever with "Kourtney & Kim Take New York," culminating with a wedding between Kim and NBA-er Kris Humphries.
Now we hear about an off-air divorce. Just more food for TV fodder.
If you are an advertiser on such a program, what can you hope for? Only a "A Fairytale Kardashian Divorce." Whereever it goes from here, you can expect big results once "Kourtney & Kim Take New York" comes back in late November.
Expect season-long series advertisers to return. For sure, Kim will probably continue to pull on a pair of Skechers exercise shoes. Why? E! pulls in lots of women, especially upscale women, a key demographic for advertisers. Also, E! has been pretty good at filling its ad house at decent rates, selling out more of its commercial inventory for key shows.
Do not judge the viewers. There is already plenty of ridicule around for everyonem including the participants. Think TV buzz.
The key is what lessons programmers and networks continue to learn about reality shows. Will the Kardashian TV enterprise go the way of TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8"? Every reality show -- especially ones focused on the lives of celebrities and near-celebrity lives -- has a specific isotope half-life. The science of it is that there will be a less-gravitational pull of viewers into this glittery solar system.
A lot has been made about what this all means for the Kardashian TV brand -- but not as much about what rubs onto the E! brand. Fortunately for cable networks -- or any TV network -- viewers watch programming, not networks.
Multiple E! reruns of the wedding are already in the book for advertisers. According to New York Times calculations, this has totaled 16 times for part one of “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding" and 22 times for part two. Together, the two parts make up a four-hour big to-do.
Hey we don't need to tell you about reaility TV marriages that never actually got started, or that failed early. ABC's "The Bachelor" went through this scenario a few times; some early Fox reality-show crazy marriage schemes also ended in a puff of smoke.
TV marketers know what they are getting into. And to be safe, no advertiser has a major sponsorship or title role in any of these near-real-time reality shows. Hardly any viewers point to those marketers as being part of any problem in this mess -- that is, if they even consider it a mess.
It's entertainment and it’s fantasy story-telling. That's the only sure reality for sale.