However you may feel about the Kardashians, one thing you cannot deny is there ability to make money. Their latest business venture was the September launch of a subscription-based lifestyle apps for Kim and Khloe, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner. Kourtney’s app will be launched later this year. The apps quickly rose to the top of Apple’s App Store downloads – led by Kylie’s, which was the most downloaded app in the United States for two consecutive days.
Digital media analysts are closely watching the performance of the “stars’” apps to see if stand-alone subscription offerings can fare well against ad-supported services. BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield observed that, “We’ve been living in a world where there’s been one pure-play big bundle, and now we’re going to find out over the next several years how big the marketplace is for niche subscriptions. In the mobile world, there’s a way for content creators to have a direct connection with fans without the gatekeepers that have historically gotten in the way.”
The Kardashian apps are free to download but require a $2.99 monthly subscription fee in order to access exclusive content. Kylie has a curated radio station while Kim offers makeup tutorials and Khloe offers workout and other lifestyle tips. Subscribers to the apps will also be treated to personal diary entries, live stream videos, giveaways and passes to certain events.
As for the newly launched apps, the sisters enjoyed about three million combined downloads within the first seven days of availability. According to Business Insider’s projections, the apps should earn combined revenues of $32 million in the first year alone.
Lloyd Braun’s Whalerock Industries is responsible for the collaboration with the Kardashians. Whalerock has plans to launch several of these types of apps over the next year, including one with Howard Stern. In describing the company’s commitment to the apps, Whalerock president Jeff Berman stated that, “Our north star is that the fans have to feel like they’re getting three or four times the value of what they’re paying.”
Whalerock executive Jared Heinke pointed out that the apps’ early performance has exceeded the company’s expectations and added that, “We’re going to earn every subscription – in the first week, the first month, the first year.”
Indeed, a major concern is whether the apps can maintain a steady stream of new subscribers over time. The sisters’ apps have already seen a reduction in number of daily downloads. It remains to be seen whether fans’ initial interest is sustainable over a sufficient length of time in order for the apps to be profitable in the long run. Rather than relying on media hype, the sisters will have to continually update their content and provide a product that fans will continue to want to invest.