Duck Dynasty hit a rough patch at the end of 2013 following controversial comments made by Phil Robertson, one of the reality TV show’s main stars, regarding homosexuals and African-Americans.
Those comments were more than just a little distasteful, as Robertson alleged that being gay was a sin and that he had never seen black people being persecuted in the Deep South, pre-civil rights. The outrage that followed those comments was obvious, and lost the show a serious amount of ratings as many viewers were just plain offended.
The A&E network promptly suspended Robertson from the show, but the other members of the Duck Dynasty team rebelled and said they wouldn’t continue filming without him.
But now, some seven months since those comments were made, Duck Dynasty is still on air, even though the show’s ratings are reported to be at least a third down on last year, which then had a massive 12 million viewers.
The drop in ratings may not be good for the network but, either way, the Duck Dynasty crew won’t be too bothered due to the numerous lucrative licensing deals they have, including anything from beef jerky to hand warmers.
Amazingly, Forbes reported that tie-ins were estimated to be worth a massive $400 million, even though the business has tapered off since that report.
David McKillop, executive vice president and general manager of A&E Networks, is also very positive about the future of Duck Dynasty, as he told reporters, “It’s a strong, strong franchise and will continue for a number of years,” adding, “I don’t think there’s any definitive proof that the controversy had an impact on the ratings. These things tend to burn very bright and then begin to settle into a plateau.”
A media studies professor at DePauw University, Jeffrey McCall, spoke about the fact that, in his opinion, shows like Duck Dynasty only have a limited shelf life.
“These kinds of ‘reality’ shows based on unique or unusual people usually don’t have great staying power. Once viewers have seen the personalities and their lifestyles, the audiences tend to move along. ‘Duck Dynasty’ has already beaten the odds by getting into Season 6,” he said.