Duck Dynasty Finale Lowest Rated Since First Season, Still Beats Ailing American Idol

Duck Dynasty waddled across the finish line for its Season Five Wednesday night, with the show’s season finale drawing the lowest rating of any Duck Dynasty finale since Season One. Nonetheless, the show was still the highest-rated program on television March 26, except for one other show, in the all-important 18-49 age demographic.

In that demographic prized by advertisers who pay the bills for most television programs, Duck Dynasty even blasted American Idol out of the water. The hirsute Robertson gang scored 3.2 million adult viewers under the age of 50, for a 2.5 rating in the crucial age group. That’s a rating for the A&E series about 15 percent higher than the score registered by Fox Network’s limping warhorse musical competition show.

Did Phil Roberston Anti-Gay Comments Lead To Ratings Drop?

While much of the post-mortem on the overall decline in Duck Dynasty ratings, which were down all season from previous outings, will likely focus on whether the now-infamous Phil Robertson anti-gay GQ interview remarks alienated viewers, it is perhaps fitting that the one show to top Duck Dynasty Wednesday was ABC’s Modern Family, a show which unapologetically features a gay couple among its lead characters.

The Season Five finale marked a recovery from last week’s anemic performance, when Duck Dynasty posted a 1.9 rating in the 18-49 demo, its worst showing since an episode in November of 2012. The show also recovered some of its overall viewership, dipping below five million last week but bouncing back to barely over six million for the finale.

Still, that figure is an eye-opening plunge from the 8.4 million who viewed the Season Four finale, and the 9.6 million for the Season Three close-out.

Season Four Premiere Set A Record, Season Five Down Sharply

The Season Four premiere drew an overall 12 million viewers, making it the most-watched cable reality show ever aired. The Season Five premiere, though admittedly having a tough act to follow, was down dramatically, pulling in 8.5 million — the first time a Duck Dynasty premiere was down from the previous season.

For the entire season, Duck Dynasty pulled in an average 2.6 rating in “the demo,” as TV industry watchers call the 18-49 viewership, down from 3.9 for both seasons that aired in 2013. Overall same-night viewership was also much lower, about 30 percent lower, with 6.3 million on average compared to 8.85 million for the 2013 Duck Dynasty airings.