TV Ratings: 'Duck Dynasty' Continues to Slide

A fast-tracked sixth season kicks off with just 4.3 million viewers, half of the January opener, making it the lowest-rated return since the sophomore premiere in 2012.
"Duck Dynasty"

To every thing there is a season -- and duck season's time is clearly waning. The sixth season of A&E megahit Duck Dynasty debuted on Wednesday night, averaging 4.3 million viewers after a season of significant ratings fatigue earlier in the year.

It should go without saying that this latest drop, just more than half of January's 8.5 million start for season five, still leaves Duck Dynasty as cable's reigning reality show. But considering that less than a year ago the show opened to an all-time record 11.77 million viewers in August, it's quite clear that past highs are now far out of reach.

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All told, it was still likely the biggest series among adults 18-49 on Wednesday night, with the highlights of the broadcast lineup being So You Think You Can Dance and a Dateline special about the O.J. Simpson trial. Duck Dynasty averaged 2.3 million viewers.

The 4.3 million viewers marks the show's least watched episode since Nov. 14, 2012 -- but it's not far below the then-16-month low March's penultimate episode fetched.

Critics and ratings-gazers will be quick to attribute Duck Dynasty's fall from grace to any number of factors -- one of them obviously being star Phil Robertson's controversial persona in the wake of anti-gay comments made in a GQ profile -- but the fact of the matter remains that docusoaps have a short lifespan. And A&E has already milked more out of Duck Dynasty than anybody could have imagined.