Is A&E shopping for a Duck Dynasty replacement already? That seems to be the latest rumor following the steady ratings plunge in the new season.
Fox411 is reporting they have information that A&E is looking for “Christian talent” in what they hope is a clean slate from the headaches they have gotten after the much talked about Phil Robertson homophobic, racist comments late last year.
In the face of the storm of criticism the family patriarch and the network received after his statements were published in GQ magazine, A&E suspended Robertson indefinitely, even though most of the episodes in the new season had already been shot with him as part of them.
If you are unfamiliar with the series, Duck Dynasty follows a family of religious duck call manufacturers, who happen to have beards and became wealthy because of their business.
The Duck Dynasty clan has made A&E lots of money as the highest rated telecast in network history since the TV show premiered in March of 2012. The August 2013 premiere attracted 11.77 million viewers.
However, after the reality TV series’ peak in 2013, rating have plummeted with 8.49 million viewers tuning in on January 15 to watch the next chapter in the Robertson family saga and only 6.65 million watched the January 22 episode.
Duck Dynasty and A&E have certainly suffered for Phil Robertson’s gaffe and the numbers don’t lie.
It is not clear whether the controversy is the factor behind the dip in ratings or just a natural progression in any show’s shelf life. The season finale in October of 2013 only brought in 8.4 million viewers.
Preparing for the eventual end or cancellation of Duck Dynasty, some entertainment industry experts believe that A&E is trying to retain and build on the Christian audience that became such huge fans of the series by developing another reality series with similar values.
Also, of important consideration is the incredible success of other religious shows such as History Channel’s The Bible in 2013, as a new phenomenon sweeps through our television screens.
Melissa Henson, grassroots director for the Parents Television Council, told FOX411:
“We’ve had several people who watch the entertainment industry proclaim that this is the year of the Bible because there are all of these epic films in the works. Russell Crowe is working on one, and there are a few faith-oriented films that are scheduled for release in 2014, which is fairly unusual. I suspect what’s happening is that there is this huge, untapped market that is potentially immensely profitable for the entertainment companies if they can create a product that would appeal to these viewers.”
It is safe to say, A&E will probably keep working with the Robertsons and their Duck Dynasty and wait until the controversy blows off. After all the more critical outlets of the clan, such as GLAAD, also suffered backlash when they slammed the patriarch.