Duck Dynasty Season 4 premiere sets cable record with 11.8 million viewers

The Robertsons were  just warming up on that trip to Hawaii, it turns out. Last April, the Season 3 finale of A&E’s massive hit Duck Dynasty nabbed what was then seen as a whopping 9.6 million viewers. Might have seemed like there was nowhere to go but down, yet Wednesday’s Duck Dynasty Season 4 premiere shattered that mark, grabbing an absolutely astounding 11.8 million viewers, making it the No. 1 nonfiction series telecast in cable history.

That led to setting network records in all the key demographics, with 6.3 million viewers 25-54, 6.3 million 18-49, and 3 million 18-34.

The brass at A&E seem to think they know the formula. David McKillop, the network’s general manager and executive vice president, said in a joyous press release, “Thanks to its authentic and engaging characters Duck Dynasty has become more than just a reality show, it is a cultural phenomenon. We would like to thank the Robertsons for their incredible partnership. We are all Happy, Happy, Happy.”

I’m happy, too. My Duck Dynasty blogs are almost always guaranteed eye grabbers, and I know that’s not just because of my Hemingway-esque turns of phrases. Willie, Jase, Si, Phil and Miss Kay have a little something to do with it.

It’s more than appropriate he references patriarch Phil Robertson’s signature catchphrase (although we also would have accepted, “Now we’re cooking with peanut oil.”), seeing as the episode, “Till Duck Do Us Part,” focused on a surprise wedding for Phil and Miss Kay, who were celebrating nearly 50 years of Justice of the Peace-induced marriage.

It begs the question, just where is the ceiling for this show? Also, when will the seemingly inevitable backlash kick in, or are the Duck Dynasty crew simply immune to the laws of TV physics?

“Authentic and engaging characters” are one way of putting it. I enjoy watching and writing about Duck Dynasty, although it isn’t necessarily something I would  make appointment viewing outside of work. What I really enjoy is talking to people who enjoy it even a lot more than I do, the huge, big-time fans, which — full disclosure — includes most of my family. Sure, they know I talk to celebrities quite a bit for my job, but far and away the most impressed they were was hearing that I have talked with Willie (twice!) and Miss Kay.

Adding Alan Robertson to the cast this year is sure to draw in even more folks, perhaps those who enjoy the Robertson’s unabashed espousal of their Christian faith. Judging from the season premiere, Alan is no goody-two-shoes country preacher, joining right in on the brotherly ribbing. I doubt there are too many people out there who still believe Duck Dynasty is a show where they just set the cameras up and see what happens, but the Robertsons are so likable and have such good chemistry and timing that they can overcome that whole “is it real or is it fake?” trap.

This keeps going on and we’ll have to just stop referring to it as the Fall TV season and just call it Duck season.

Duck Dynasty Season 4 premiere Phil Robertson Miss Kay Alan A&E

Photo: © 2013 Gurney Productions

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