Tuesday, August 20, 2013
A Salute to Our New Duck Dynasty Overlords
I know, it's hard to believe, but Duck Dynasty is truly a phenomenon. After the ratings came in last week, I quickly grew this beard and replaced my Twitter icon.
The A&E reality comedy, which stars Louisiana-based duck call moguls the Robertson family, broke cable viewership records on Aug. 14 with its fourth season bow.
The one-hour premiere averaged 11.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched unscripted series telecast in cable history. The episode attracted 6.3 million adults 18-49, a new record for A&E, and the biggest rating in the demo for any regular program, broadcast or cable, since an episode of The Voice on April 15.
The show's success baffles many rivals, but A&E general manager/executive vice president Dave McKillop credits the Robertsons' authenticity. "They're self-made, they love each other, they do have rivalries and multi-generational tension, but what comes first to them is family," he says. "There's no fighting or yelling or cursing. Just lots of hijinks."
The Robertsons kept shooting season four even as their agents tussled with A&E over a new deal. The clan eventually secured $250,000 an episode, which actually seems like a bargain given the show's smash success. But the Robertsons are also cashing in via other means, such as merchandising. And Duck Dynasty has helped make their Duck Commander business even bigger.
A&E and Gurney Productions, which makes the show, also had to hammer out a new deal. But despite rumors of renegotiation strife, McKillop says deal making was "never contentious… Any time a negotiation is challenging. But it was never to a point where we lost faith in them. I will say that everyone's happy." Nothing like a ratings hit to bring people together.