August 15, 2013 11:06am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 'Duck Dynasty' Does It Again, Returns to Record 11.8 Million Viewers
Coming off of a record-breaking season, A&E's Ducky Dynasty has nabbed another huge ratings feat with its August return. The unscripted comedy drew a record 11.8 million viewers during Wednesday's one-hour premiere. That's almost 2 million north of its previous record, making it cable's biggest nonfiction series to date.
Just as impressive, the series drew a massive 6.3 million adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.
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In April, Duck Dynasty wrapped its impressive third run -- one that saw it top all cable series outside of AMC's The Walking Dead -- by besting even American Idol in the key demo. The episode hit a record 9.6 million viewers, 5.5 million of them adults 18-49. Its demo returns now rival that of most broadcast series, including NBC's The Voice.
This season of Duck Dynasty was thrown in jeopardy earlier in the year when the stars of the series, the Robertson family, went into what proved to be months-long salary negotiations. Though they started production on the fourth season to ensure a summer return, contracts were only just signed -- quadrupling their previous compensation and locking them in for multiple seasons, should A&E want to keep the ratings juggernaut around.
“Thanks to its authentic and engaging characters Duck Dynasty has become more than just a reality show, it is a cultural phenomenon,” said A&E GM and executive vp David McKillop. “We would like to thank the Robertsons for their incredible partnership. We are all Happy, Happy, Happy.”
Compared to last season's premiere, Duck Dynasty grew 37 percent in total viewers, 29 percent in adults 25-54 and 26 percent in adults 18-49. Next week the network will use the series' unrivaled audience to help launch new unscripted effort, Modern Dads.