Kris Jenner is the matriarch of one of the most famous families in the world, but it seems no amount of personal drama, scandals and gushing about her granddaughter was enough to drive droves of Americans to her self-titled FOX summer daytime talk show.
While “Kris” didn’t completely fall flat, it was far from a raging success. So what went wrong?
“Fame isn’t a reason for people to watch something. People watch the reality shows for drama, and because the Kardashian family is kind of a train-wreck, not because of what they have to say,” explained one closely connected television studio executive. “The ratings weren’t a huge disaster because it is summer, but talk show hosts need to offer something in particular. Ellen is funny. Steve Harvey is funny.
Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz offer expert advice, and Wendy Williams is [a pop culture expert] so viewers know what they will get from these shows. What does ‘Kris’ offer?”
Ahead of its premiere on July 16, Jenner teased audiences with the possibility that her newborn granddaughter North West may turn up during the series premiere, and the first episode drew solid numbers, averaging a 1.1 rating, but the baby never made an appearance. The second week, “Kris” dropped 11 percent and as time progressed, it was deemed to be “failing” by media critics.
Daughter Kim Kardashian’s boyfriend Kanye West finally gave the program a much-needed bump last week after he appeared in a pre-taped segment, which aired during the finale show Friday, and flashed a picture of their 2-month-old daughter, North West. But according to Life & Style, he wasn’t exactly a willing participant.
A source told the publication that Jenner had a “mini-meltdown” in front of her tight-knit family about the low ratings and their lack of support, and because Kim apparently “didn’t feel ready” to make an appearance herself, she begged West to take her place. The segment drew a great deal of promotion and buzz in the days prior, but some experts say a simple stunt like a photo isn’t enough to secure Jenner a long-term deal.
Prior to the finale episode, “Kris” averaged a 0.8 household rating in its test markets.
“Stunts are good for one-off ratings blasts, but for a show that airs [multiple times] per week, it is really more of a question of how to make the show as a whole more attractive to viewers on an ongoing basis,” explained Los Angeles-based talent agent executive Alec Shankman. “Talk shows are incredibly difficult to launch for any host. Many shows with incredibly famous and well-liked hosts have failed – often on an annual basis. So speculation on Kris’ likability aside, it is just a really difficult challenge for anyone.”
But despite the momager’s generally lackluster ratings, FOX has yet to officially say yay or nay to “Kris” becoming a regular series.
"It is too soon to tell if the show will be back, usually a test runs in the summer, and if it works for the network it would return next fall,” an inside source at the network told us. “Which is typical for syndicated shows, an example of that was Bethenny Frankel's show."
FOX’s “Bethenny” premieres on Sept. 9, following a test run last summer during which it posted better-than-expected numbers with a 1.5 premiere rating. Jenner’s ratings also broke mostly even with the same time last year.
And given that her talk show debut failed to take off in the extraordinary way her E! reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” did when it launched six years ago, is this a sign that Americans are starting to lose interest in the antics of the famous family?
“Not at all,” one well-placed studio insider insisted. “Their brand is drama, shenanigans, reality drama.”
But others beg to differ.
“I do believe that there has been a recent ‘change of tides’ in the press and that much of what we’re seeing about the Kardashians in the news lately is very negative,” Shankman added.
Reps for FOX and Jenner did not respond to a request for comment.
Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report