“Jon & Kate + 8” Scandal Helps Bring Life Back To Dying Media

Confession: We were one of the 9.8 million viewers who tuned in to watch the season premiere of “Jon & Kate + 8” on TLC Monday night. Although we have long found control freak Kate Gosselin and henpecked husband Jon a bit difficult to watch, the train wreck of a big family reality show has nevertheless kept us riveted for four seasons.

This week’s viewership was up 4.4 million from last season’s finale earlier this year. The jump is undoubtedly linked to the Jon and Kate scandal that has been splashed across tabloid magazines, television shows and Web sites for the past few weeks.

Not surprisingly, this scandal has meant big bucks for a tabloid media industry that has been searching for a golden goose since Angelina gave birth to her twins. Today, the New York Post‘s Keith Kelly jumped on the bandwagon by reporting that putting Jon and Kate on the cover of Us Weekly for the past six issues has helped the celebrity tabloid bump up newsstands sales dramatically.

Although Us Weekly was averaging about 860,000 in newsstand sales last year, sales have been tanking thanks to the economy, Kelly said. But after taking a “gamble” and breaking the news of Jon’s alleged affair on Kate on its May 11 cover, Us Weekly saw newsstand sales jump to about one million copies. The two subsequent issues sold 942,000 and “between 850,000 and 900,000,” respectively, Kelly said, with the latest two issues topping out at about one million and between 1.2 and 1.3 million copies sold.

And Jon and Kate are not just earning money for magazines. Leading up to Monday’s premiere, the show’s Web site was the number one ranked television Web site among cable networks. TLC is so happy with the show’s performance, it announced that there are 40 more episodes on order.

But the question for viewers (like us!) is what those episodes will contain. Will Jon and Kate be silently avoiding each other, as they did in Monday’s premiere? Will Jon be moving out? Will Kate be sitting alone on the confessional couch? Will she show’s title change? We all may be intrigued by the scandal — which somewhat answers the burning question of “How does he deal with her?” that has persisted throughout the show’s run — but it resulted in a pretty depressing premiere episode.

As fans of the show, we hope Jon and Kate find some way to work it out, if not for the sake of their children, for the sake of their viewers. But don’t us wrong. We’re happy that hardworking tabloid journalists are earning money thanks to the Jon and Kate cottage industry that has recently sprung up. Sometimes a juicy scandal is exactly what it takes to lift the spirits of a dying industry.

What do you think? Have the tabloids gone too far this time? Is it time to change the subject?