‘Duck Dynasty’ Loses A Lot Of Viewers, But A Lot Of Viewers Still Watching

Phil Robertson of 'Duck Dynasty' on A&E
Phil Robertson of ‘Duck Dynasty’ on A&E

Duck Dynasty, the A&E reality/comedy show about a wealthy Christian fundamentalist family, slipped in viewers in its fifth season premiere Jan. 15, down 28 percent from its previous season opener last August.

A 28 percent drop is a sizeable number, but the show still pulled in 8.5 million viewers — far above what is normally seen on a cable TV show. The show even beat Modern Family for the night, and that plays on the ABC network and it one of the top programs on TV today.

Critics will be quick to blame the drop in viewers on cast member Phil Robertson, known just as “Phil,” the grandfather patriarch of the family, who said in an interview with GQ magazine  that he believed that gays and lesbians “are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless.” It is tempting to find Phil’s comment offensive, but then we have also seen RuPaul‘s Drag Race and it’s hard to deny that some of those bitches check a lot of those boxes.

Although Phil probably should just keep his opinions to himself.  He also compared gay sex to bestiality, said gays would burn in hell, questioned why a man would want to put his penis in another man’s anus, all the typical drivel we’ve heard before. Then another interview also surfaced from a few years past in which he recommended men marry  girls who are 15 or 16, because they make better wives at that age. So he’s at least proving himself to be a well-rounded creep, and perhaps not a person anyone should take seriously.

Nevertheless, his comments were made in the public arena, so it’s all out there and we have to deal with it.  He may have had an impact on viewers and contributed to the drop in ratings.  It’s also possible that viewers don’t really care what the world’s leading expert on duck hunting supplies thinks about anything, and they are leaving Duck Dynasty simply because the show has run its course. With story lines that are obviously staged and dialogue that is recited almost as awkwardly as making people talk to their real family members, the novelty of these “reality” shows wears thin quickly.

After Phil’s comments unfortunately were made known, A&E network executives originally planned to cut Phil from the show.  But after his family hinted they would all quit in return, Phil was reprimanded with just a slap on the wrist and the show carried on, proving that TV executives worry nothing about setting a good example for the public, and being a decent human being matters only when it doesn’t cause anyone to lose money. God bless America.  In exchange for keeping Phil in front of the Duck Dynasty cameras, executives at A&E promise to program content promoting diversity and tolerance.  Perhaps that new direction will include more with Uncle Si, who seems to be a lot more fun than “stick in the mud” Phil.

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  • KittyLitter

    Never have, never will.

  • crazycorgi

    I’m sure that they did not lose any viewers. The inbred rednecks that follow this shit-show probably didn’t realize that it was on.

  • KDub

    @crazycorgi: Oh but they did. It’s true. Many conservatives are pissed with A&E (I think for saying they would cut Robertson when it started), so they’re banning A&E. I’ve seen a lot of comments saying they’ll only resume support if the show is moved to another channel.

  • 2eo

    I don’t know anyone with a low enough IQ to watch this show, and if I did I would see to it they are shown the door in very quick time.

  • mrsbuela

    Viewership is down, not because the inbred halfwit made nasty comments about gays. It’s okay to bash the gays! One of the major political parties of this country does it all the time!

    Viewership is probably down because the halfwit got all emboldened and developed a case of diarrhea of the mouth, where he started talking about men marrying 15 and 16 year olds girls.

    It’s okay to bash the gays. It’s not okay to push pedophilia and statutory rape.

  • Stache1

    I’ve tried watching this POS show just because of the controversy. My god it’s soooo insanely stupid.

  • bobbyjoe

    The largest losses for Duck Dynasty were in the age demographic advertisers most desire: 18-49. So attempts to paint this as “not so bad” for A&E miss the mark: they lost nearly a third of the audience they had for the past season premiere and a good deal of the audience that remained is often in the “dentures and medical bed” advertising demographic– not exactly what most networks want. They may still have the stalwart viewers but there’s no way now to build more of an audience. Phil Robertson definitely did serious damage, which may be why you’re seeing ABC frantically getting their “Bachelor” to instantly apologize for his anti-gay comments.

  • KDub

    @bobbyjoe: Actually mrsbuela was right. The viewership isn’t down because of Robertson’s homophobic statements. In fact it’s quite the opposite. The viewership is down because supporters of the show are boycotting A&E for attempting to silence Phil Robertson.

  • Stache1

    @KDub: No one ever silenced Phil Robertson. That’s what Mrsbuela was getting at. If you were a hard core supporter though you’d be watching the show to show your support.

  • h.leiden3

    I checked out the link to the interview to see what the controversy was really about. Mr. Robertson is not quoted correctly by the media or by this article.
    His comment about where he prefers to put his p… is a valid opinion. I remember an episode of Sex and the City where a gay couple decided to have sex with Samantha, but leaving her in bed at the last moment as their faces indicated the were disgusted and couldn’t continue.
    I also have heard gays jokes and comments (even from some friends) about how disgusting they find the idea of having sex with a woman.
    So why to vilify Mr. Robertson for his opinion of what he finds sexuall atractive? His comment was ““It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me”.
    I see it as a double standard.
    About sin: if you do not believe in christhianity, why to bother with his opinion of what is sinful o not??
    Also he didn’t compare homosexuality with bestiality or said “he believed that gays and lesbians “are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless.”
    he quoted a bible verse that has a list of separated things consdered sins, which does not implies that one action means you are also doing or being any of the others on that list.
    But read this article AND the interview and form your own opinion.

  • tjr101

    I am so thankful that the people in my life don’t watch this show.

  • Stache1

    @h.leiden3: I don’t find opposite sex couples having sex disgusting at all. Yeah, I’m sure you have plenty of gay friends..

    I find it hard to hate something that I believe doesn’t even exist. How about you list all the other many sins in the bible. Everything from adultery to kids cursing their parents and the bibles death penalty for them? Seriously, until you Christians stop cherry picking what’s convenient to your hate and apply your judgement equally you’re just lying hypocrites.

  • KDub

    @Stache1: Actually, A&E did suspend Robertson for like a week, and that’s why a lot of conservatives are boycotting the network altogether. So I just meant mrsbuela was right about viewership not going down because of homophobic statements. The heat is really directed at A&E. DD is just caught in the crossfire.

  • bobbyjoe

    @KDub @mrsbuela I doubt the primary “boycotters” are in the 18-49 year old demographics; that makes little sense. The Fox News crowd and the Tea Party type– i.e., the people most likely to still think boycotts are effective and/or to bother with boycotts in the first place– tend to skew older (often much older). If viewership was down only in the older demographics, you might have a point that it’s mainly about a boycott of A&E. But clearly, when the largest demographic they’re losing is the youngest, it’s highly likely something else is going on.

  • Cam

    Not only did they lose nearly 1/3 of their viewers but they lost them in the most important demographic for advertisers.

    Hey, bigotry costs money.

  • Maria Whittaker

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  • KDub

    @bobbyjoe: Yeah, I get that you really, really, reeeeally want to believe that this is all a big show of support for gays, but it just isn’t. Not sure why you think all the supporters are senior citizens, but that’s hardly true either (guess you missed the post about Liam Payne’s support for the family). Half the millions of viewers that tuned into the premier were in the 18-49 range. The show is and always has been about a southern family with “strong Christian values”; does that really sound like a show that would’ve ever had a super LGBT-supportive audience?

  • bobbyjoe

    @KDub Weird overly aggressive response, but please point to where I ever said this is purely support for gays or that all their supporters were senior citizens. I just think that saying this is all about a boycott of A&E is highly unlikely. Some of it may be, but the demographics suggest that’s in no way the whole story.

    It seems to me like you have more of an agenda to oddly suggest it has nothing whatsoever to do with people irritated with Robertson’s statements and is all coming from some boycott of A&E. But why would you be so set in arguing that the situation was that cut-and-dry?

    1) Other than anecdotal evidence, I’m not seeing anything that suggests any real actual organizing of younger viewers to boycott, i.e., actual sustained organizations with large youth memberships keeping them focused and committed. Boycotts rarely work because people rarely follow through in the best of circumstances, and spontaneity (“hey let’s all boycott”) only goes so far. People tend to say what others want to hear, but if they really like something, they watch anyway. You cite Liam Payne, for example, but notably even he’s not saying he’s stopped watching the show. And as to the success of boycotts, in the past, for example, conservative groups have boycotted (in much better organized attempts) things like Disneyworld, while Disneyworld’s actual attendance didn’t go down (and even in some cases went up). And, again, modern boycotts have historically been generated by older groups.

    2) Second of all, not saying the Tea Party and their ilk are brain trusts or anything, but a boycott with the intent to move the show to another network would be perhaps the stupidest tactic in the history of television. A show losing significant ratings is not incentive for any other network to pick it up, or at least one that thinks its going to ever increase viewership or offer ads that aren’t for cheap mail-order gizmos. What network executive in his/her right mind would want to try and reboot a show that dropped a third of its viewers?

    So if your theory is right, and this is all, entirely 100% about some boycott, the effect (and my point) is the same: Phil Robertson damaged the show in a way that means it’s truly unlikely it can ever again grow its audience.

  • KDub

    @bobbyjoe: Wow, 5 paragraphs? Talk about an overly aggressive response. You replied to what I said in disagreement (even though I provided an article that explains there was and still is a boycott because A&E originally attempted to take action. What’s highly unlikely is DD’s fanbase dropping support because they were offended by any of Phil’s statements (the same statements they describe as “his right to express his views”). My only agenda is aganist intellectual dishonesty. Considering the boycott and DD’s likely fanbase, does it really seem like a show that would’ve ever had a super LGBT-supportive audience to begin with? And please, no need for a 500-word essay. K.I.S.S.!

  • Dionte

    May whoever that watches that show knowing what he said be damned.

Comments are closed.