The ratings decline for “Duck Dynasty” continued as it kicked off its sixth season Wednesday with the show’s lowest numbers since the fall of 2012.
“Duck,” which featured a guest appearance by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, was cable’s No. 1 show on the night, according to Nielsen, but its 1.8 rating in adults 18-49 was 45% lower than its fifth-season opener in January of this year (3.3). It was also 28% lower than where it ended with its fifth season in March (2.5).
In total viewers, “Duck” drew 4.6 million on Wednesday — down 46% from its season 5 premiere (8.5 million) and 23% below its March season finale (6.0 million).
The show, which was embroiled in controversy last winter due to derogatory comments about gays and others made by family patriarch Phil Robertson, peaked with its fourth-season premiere last August (5.0 demo rating, 11.77 million viewers overall) — the largest audience for a nonfiction series telecast in cable history.
While the controversy certainly contributed to “Duck’s” decline, it also should be noted that docudramas in general tend to have a relatively short shelf life. The series seemed to lose steam in the back half of its fourth season, and its ratings declines accelerated post-controversy.
“Duck Dynasty” also holds the cable reality record in adults 25-54 (6.3 million), topping the mark set by “Trading Spaces” nearly 10 years earlier. The only cable reality show to ever draw more adults 18-49 than last summer’s “Duck Dynasty” premiere was TLC’s “Jon & Kate” in June 2009 (6.5 million).