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Duck Dynasty: Ratings Blitzkrieg

by Robert W. Hunnicutt   |  July 9th, 2013 1

We don’t cover duck hunting in SGN, so I’m no expert on duck calls. But the A&E Network’s Duck Dynasty has emerged as a ratings powerhouse. Variety reported that Nielsen ratings showed the comical antics of the call-making Robertson family dominating the cable market:

“Duck Dynasty” was far and away the No. 1 program in all categories, including adults 18-49 (7.51 million or 5.9 rating) and total viewers (13 million), according to live-plus 7 Nielsen data. The show helped A&E to a 20% ratings surge over the previous year’s results.

If you’ve set foot in a Walmart lately, the bearded visages of the show’s leading men are everywhere, and a recent Wall Street Journal story indicated that Duck Dynasty branded merchandise would be expanding from seven departments to 14. The family just signed a fat endorsement deal with Mossberg to use its shotguns.

What’s this all about, then? I can only imagine various Hollywood execs scratching their heads in wonderment. I don’t doubt the very generous financial incentives Louisiana offers for television production were a big draw in getting the show off the ground, but I’ll bet few TV bigshots ever imagined a comedy about a bunch of camo-clad evangelical Christian duck call makers would dominate the cable ratings.

My guess is the keys to the show’s success are that a lot of Americans like guns and hunting, a lot of them like to see the traditional religion of our country shown in a positive light, and they don’t mind seeing a successful patriarchal family structure in action, even if the patriarchs are usually butts of the humor. Duck Dynasty celebrates pretty much everything that is disdained by the Democratic Party, the media and academia, and does so with an unabashed good humor.

My only question is why it’s taken so long for the backlash to start. Head of the family Phil Robertson is a fire-and-brimstone preacher who can pivot immediately from duck calling instruction to interpreting the scriptures.  Company CEO Willie is a member of the NRA Board of Directors. Anytime you are successful, there are those anxious to tear you down, and anyone so successfully living the American Dream is sure to become a target. Fortunately, it’s hard to imagine gossip writers and paparazzi hanging out in W. Monroe, La. Way too far from Spago.

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