February 28, 2013 12:11pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 'Duck Dynasty' Returns to Record 8.6 Million Viewers
An astounding 8.6 million viewers responded to the call of Duck Dynasty's third-season premiere Wednesday night.
The A&E juggernaut, one of the biggest reality success stories of the past year, returned up 132 percent from its sophomore debut. Back-to-back episodes at 10 p.m. topped all broadcast outings but CBS' CSI in total viewers, and its score in the key demo was even more as impressive.
Up 127 percent in adults 18-49, Duck Dynasty drew 5 million viewers in the golden demo. That's a 3.9 rating, which not only tops the 10 p.m. across all networks, it beats Fast National ratings for American Idol (3.8 adults) and ties Modern Family as the night's strongest performer across all of television.
Among the network's targeted adults 25-54, it was up 117 percent to 4.9 million. By all key measures, Duck Dynasty ranks as the network's biggest telecast ever and the top cable outing of the night.
Duck Dynasty is produced for A&E Networks by Gurney Productions, with Deirdre Gurney, Scott Gurney, David McKillop, Elaine Frontain Bryant and Lily Neumeyer serving as executive producers.