Duck Dynasty ratings plunged to their lowest level since November of 2012, with only the season finale remaining for the Robertson clan to regain its fast-fading status as a reality TV ratings juggernaut. Though Duck Dynasty once again topped the Wednesday night cable charts, the episode was not the top-rated reality show of the week in the all-important 18-49 year old target demographic.
That honor went to Sunday night’s airing of Real Housewives of Atlanta on Bravo, whose 2.0 rating with the 18-49 set nipped the 1.9 posted by Duck Dynasty.
Duck Dynasty also dropped below 5 million viewers overall, pulling in 4,711,000.
The ratings drop comes on the heels of a report earlier in the week that the show fell in the top-secret “Q” ratings, generally seen only by Hollywood insiders. The “Q” measures how positively or negatively viewers feel about a show and its individual stars. The drop in the Duck Dynasty “Q” could indicate that viewers were alienate by the controversy surrounding derogatory comments made by Duck Dynasty senior cast member Phil Robertson towards both gay and black people.
But TV industry experts say the ratings drop this week and the overall softer ratings for Duck Dynasty in the current Season Five do not necessarily indicate revulsion at Robertson’s comments published last year in GQ Magazine.
Instead, they say, the Duck Dynasty ratings are falling simply because the show is nearing the end of its shelf life — and the A&E Network which carries Duck Dynasty is doing whatever it can to milk every last drop of revenue from the show.
“What you’re seeing is similar to what NBC is doing with The Voice. ‘We have it. Let’s use it while we can, and get what we can out of it,’” said Sam Armando, of the media firm firm SMGx. “If the ratings come down a little, it’s because they’re ready to — not because of this controversy.”
The incessant Duck Dynasty repeats aired throughout the week by A&E, as well as the seeming ubiquity of the cast members through multiple merchandising outlets and and media appearances simply create fatigue in an audience, says HitFix senior TV writer Liane Bonin Starr.
“When a show becomes a breakout hit, we see the stars on every magazine, get inundated with promos, then smacked in the head with books, posters, promotional items and whatever other products can be tied to the coattails of success. Eventually, we get tired of it,” Bonin Starr wrote. “A&E has certainly made sure we get as much Duck Dynasty as we can stand in the form of repeats, but the challenge will be in giving the show a life-extending makeover.”