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What’s on TV: Facts and figures on Duck Dynasty

We keep hearing that Duck Dynasty is a ratings juggernaut for cable network A&E because it’s the #1-rated cable TV series and draws 14 million viewers a week.

tv-clipartHow much of all of this is true?

Well, for starters, the ratings juggernaut for A&E part of what we’re hearing is most definitely true. Duck Dynasty, according to AdWeek, pulls in around $80 million in ad sales annually, 16 percent of A&E’s total ad-sales haul.

The 14 million viewers a week part of what we’re hearing is not true. The show averaged 9.13 million viewers a week in Season 4, which opened in August to a nonfiction cable-series record audience of 11.8 million viewers.

The 14 million viewers figure that you hear quoted often these days comes into play when you count original broadcasts and reruns. Undoubtedly there are duplicates in that bigger audience.

The #1-rated cable TV series part of what we’re hearing is also not true. It’s the #3-rated cable TV show on the air right now (AMC’s The Walking Dead averaged 13 million viewers in its most recent season, and ESPN’s Monday Night Football brings in 13.7 million viewers a week).

One other bit of perspective: Duck Dynasty’s weekly viewers rank 21st overall when you lump in all cable and broadcast TV shows.

Not to dispel the ratings power of Duck Dynasty. It makes A&E a lot of money, and the ongoing controversy over Phil Robertson is only going to help that become even more the case.

What? You thought that A&E and the Robertson family really were at odds over his comments on gays and race issues? Then you didn’t realize that nine of the 10 episodes in the upcoming Season 5, which premieres in January, were already in the can, and that Phil Robertson is as much a key player in each one as he has been for the past four seasons.

Geez, I wonder what the final episode of Season 5 might be about? Hmm. And I wonder if there might be any interest among the fans to see the “bickering” between the Robertson clan and A&E execs when that one airs in a couple of months?

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