But after years of countless endorsements, magazine covers and red carpet appearances, it seems that the world is finally reaching the end of an era: With Kardashian products tanking, ratings down and Lamar Odom threatening to derail the entire family with his serial philandering and drug use, industry insiders increasingly agree that they simply cannot hold on much longer.
When the show's contract is up in 2015, it could be the end of the Kardashians as we know it!
With contract negotiations approaching, "maintaining their brand image is paramount right now," branding and marketing expert Liz Goodgold tells RadarOnline.com.
And Lamar's off-camera antics definitely don't fit with the family's on-screen narrative. As such, Goodgold says, they've tried to go into lockdown to minimize the damage. "The family quickly closes ranks and silences negative information," she explains. If Lamar were to break that omertà by exposing their secrets, Goodgold says, the show would likely not be renewed, because the "scope and scale of how they manipulate the media would truly be unveiled."
Jennifer Pozner, the author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV agrees, "It's been proven over and over that they're masters of business and masters of manipulation. The expectation that anything that we see on TV about their relationships would be real is only the result of the fact that we don't teach media literacy in this country."
As fans begin to become more aware of the Kardashians' tricks, however, Pozner tells Radar, "People are starting to say, 'I think we're over it.'" But because reality shows are very cheap to produce, she says, "E! is probably going to hold on as long as they can despite what the viewers want," possibly in the form of a spin-off show for Kylie and Kendall Jenner.
Older sisters Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, "Really don't have anything going for them at this point," branding expert Rob Frankel says. "Brands are about building trust and value … The Kardashians don't care about that, they care about marketing, slapping their name on whatever they can until the interest runs out."
Now that that's happening, he says, "After 2015, it's on to Kendall and Kylie, the other acts that they've got coming up." Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, he says, "were really a disposable property. They never had a strategy to keep that identity going for the long-term."
Hollywood publicist Michael Levine agrees, telling Radar, "They knew at some point the show was gonna end all along! And I don't think the show ever had much credibility to begin with."
Says Frankel ruefully, when it comes to reality TV, "The public just doesn't know any different."