Duck Dynasty may be on the way back, not that it ever went anywhere. After suffering a ratings drop for its Season 5 premiere two weeks ago, and another worrying plunge in its second week, the redneck reality show picked up viewers for its 10 pm airing Wednesday night on the A&E network.
The ratings boost may be a sign that the controversy over the anti-gay and racist comments made by one of the show’s stars in magazine interview late last year is finally in Duck Dynasty‘s rear view mirror.
The quotes came from the 67-year-old patriarch of the Robertson family that is the subject of the show, Phil Robertson, in an interview that appeared in GQ Magazine between the end of Season 4 and the premiere of the current season. A&E briefly suspended Roberston from the show.
Despite its seeming struggles in the ratings, Duck Dynasty has nonetheless won the night among basic cable broadcasts all three weeks that Season Five has been on. On Wednesday, Duck Dynasty pulled in just under 7.5 million viewers to easily outpace second-place finisher American Horror Story, which pulled in 4.2 million in the same 10 pm time slot, on the rival FX network.
Last week, only 6.7 million Duck Dynasty viewers caught the show, the series’ lowest rating since Season 2’s December, 2012 finale.
But what may be even more encouraging to A&E executives is that the ratings boost for Duck Dynasty appeared to provide a a boost for the network’s newest entry in the seemingly inexhaustible reality genre.
Airing at 10:30, immediately following Duck Dynasty, Wahlburgers follows movie star Mark Wahlberg, his TV star brother Donnie Wahlberg and their burger-chef brother Paul Wahlberg as they try to keep the family’s Boston burger joint afloat.
Wahlburgers got an injection of 23 percent more viewers, surging from 3.26 million last week to a healthy 4 million this week. The boost put the movie-star-as-regular-guy show into fourth place for the night on cable, behind an NBA basketball game on ESPN that finished third.
While Wahlburgers also featured the sight of TV host and nude Playboy model Jenny McCarthy, current flame of Donnie Wahlberg, stuffing down a sausage-burger combo, even with that kind of star power it still has a long way to go before it reaches the powerhouse level of Duck Dynasty.