Duck Dynasty ratings for the show’s season six premiere on Wednesday took a dizzying plunge from the ratings for the season five debut, pulling in just 4.3 million viewers — about half of the number who watched the January premiere.
A guest appearance by Louisiana’s Republican Governor Bobby Jindal failed to give any ratings boost to the the Duck Dynasty premiere.
Wednesday’s premiere was the lowest-rated Duck Dynasty episode since November 14 of 2012, and represented a massive drop from the season four premiere last August, which pulled in 11.77 million, still a record for the reality show.
The episode also disappointed with the 18-49 year-old group most prized by advertisers. Only 1.8 million viewers from that demographic watched Duck Dynasty on Wednesday. That’s 45 percent lower than the season five premiere which attracted 3.3 million 18-49 age viewers and 28 percent lower than the season five finale just three months ago. That Duck Dynasty episode pulled did a 2.5 number in the key demo.
Nonetheless, Duck Dynasty won its night among cable broadcasts, beating the NHL Stanley Cup Finals Game Four, which saw the New York Rangers edge the Los Angeles Kings to stay alive in that series. The game pulled in just under 3.4 million viewers, and 1.3 million in the 18-49 demographic.
Even with its floundering ratings, Duck Dynasty remains the reality show champion of cable TV.
But there’s no disguising the drop in popularity for Duck Dynasty, which many industry experts trace back to the controversial comments made by one of the show’s stars, Phil Robertson, in a GQ magazine interview last December.
In that interview, Robertson made comments that were widely regarded as disparaging to gay people and to African-Americans.
However, as industry bible Variety noted, there are other factors involved as well in the Duck Dynasty decline. “Docudramas in general tend to have a relatively short shelf life,” the magazine reported.
Another industry trade publication, The Hollywood Reporter, pointed out that given that shows in the quasi-documentary reality genre — “docusoaps” as the publication calls them — tend to come and go in a hurry, “A&E has already milked more out of ‘Duck Dynasty’ than anybody could have imagined.”
The Robertson family, who star in Duck Dynasty, have built a reported $400 million empire around the show, with spinoffs ranging from dehydrated food products to ocean cruises to the family’s own edition of the Bible.