Duck Dynasty was once the most popular and talked-about show on cable, a ratings powerhouse that also dominated the news with the controversial views of its stars.
But as the attention surrounding the views of the show’s 67-year-old patriarch, Phil Robertson, has died down, the show has seen a considerable slide in the ratings and faces rumors that it could be headed toward cancellation.
This year’s Season 6 numbers averaged 3.8 million viewers, a drop of more than 40 percent from the 6.5 million who tuned in for Season 5. The show is even further from its peak viewership during Season 4.
Many attribute the drop to the controversy surrounding Phil Robertson, who said in a December, 2013 interview that homosexuality is a sin. In the same interview he seemed to downplay the struggle of blacks in the pre-Civil Rights era south.
Robertson was briefly suspended, but A&E changed course in the face of protests from conservatives.
Though the ratings began to slide not long after the controversy erupted, Phil Robertson’s controversial views aren’t the only thing hurting Duck Dynasty. As Zap2It explained, there are several factors leading to the show’s decline.
The report noted that A&E squeezed six seasons in a three-year period, leading to some burnout even among die-hard fans.
The show was also bound to face a ratings decline eventually, Zap2It added.
“With a very rare handful of exceptions, just about every successful show — from “American Idol” to “Modern Family” — goes through this kind of ratings cycle. That “Duck Dynasty” was able to hit the heights it did was pretty remarkable; its subsequent drop may have been steeper, but the fact that it came down to earth again is just business as usual.”
The Chicago Tribune noted that Duck Dynasty may have simply reached a logical end to its run.
“What happened? Frankly, the Robertsons’ drift away from their show and onto side projects was reflected in the audience’s attention span. Which should be fine. After all, as we’ve detailed here before, the whole point of doing a reality show is to catapult you to bigger and better things. The Robertsons have that now: They have their increasing line of businesses, such as the latest with the Robertson wives (Korie, Jessica, Missy) launching a line of handbags.”
But despite the ratings decline, A&E has given no indication that Duck Dynasty could be canceled anytime soon.
[Image via D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra]