Are you a fan of the beards -- Willie, Phil, Jase, and Si? Well, if you are, you might be interested to know that "Duck Dynasty" led the ratings again this past week for made-for-cable television shows, something it has done almost without fail since its Season 2 premiere in October. (And if you're not a fan, that simply means you've never watched the show -- or you would be.) The difference this time, however, is that they won the night with repeat shows.
That's correct. Repeat shows. Reruns. According to Nielsen Ratings (via TV By The Numbers), the AETV hit placed four shows in the Top 15 and three in the Top 5 (two in the Top 3), including the No. 1 position.
The show also placed two shows among all the top-rated cable broadcasts on Wednesday -- at No. 8 and No. 11. The Duck Commander crew placed behind shows with years of fan support, like TBS' "Big Bang Theory" and Adult Swim's "American Dad," "Family Guy," and "Robot Chicken." And besides two episodes of "Big Bang Theory," the film "Big Screen Movie" on the Family Channel, and an episode of "NCIS" on USA network, "Duck Dynasty" was the only show in the Top 15 rated programs with actual non-animation people in it.
There's very little original programming on television during the last few weeks of the calendar year with regard to TV shows. Broadcasts that are original usually consist of live events, holiday specials, year-end specials, and live sporting events. So with programming given over to repeats, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a rerun would win ratings for a given evening. Still, it is a testament to the show's popularity that it can pull off enough viewers, especially with all the holiday distractions, to garner top billing.
To appreciate the "Duck Dynasty" numbers, all one has to do is compare it to new episodes of Discovery Channel's "Moonshiners" and "Amish Mafia" the previous week. "Moonshiners" posted top billing, with "Duck Dynasty" taking the eighth and tenth positions for the night. In fact, Discovery's new shows even beat ABC, NBC, and CBS on Dec. 20, which cannot sit too well with the traditional networks, being just another sign that their hegemony over TV ratings is coming to a close.
But "Duck Dynasty" has been on a positive roll for a while. This past week's rerun success story is just the latest. Last season, the Robertson clan hosted one of the fastest growing shows on cable television. According to an AETV press release, the Season 2 premiere saw a series record average of 3.8 million viewers for the double episode debut, continuing the trend.
So how is "Duck Dynasty" pulling off the ratings coup? A combination of humor and clean family entertainment.
Willie and Phil Robertson appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in November and Leno asked to what the guys attributed the success of their show. Phil, the patriarch of the duck-call-making millionaire clan, said it was all a surprise to him. But Willie, Phil's eldest son and CEO of Duck Commander, said that his touring the country had led to feedback on the show. He said that people seemed to like the family atmosphere. He also noted that people liked that it was "funny" and "positive" as well.
Well, if you like a little Mayberry mixed with duck call manufacturing, a lot of family situational humor with a lot of down-home goofiness, and more facial hair and redneck philosophy than you can shake a stick at, "Duck Dynasty" is a show not to miss. And it looks like there's quite a few that aren't missing it. Even the reruns.
"Duck Dynasty" will return with new episodes in 2013. The show airs at 10 p.m. on AETV on Wednesday nights.
Take Home Message: "Duck Dynasty" is proof that a show doesn't have to be sexually explicit, violent, full of intrigue and/or Macchiavellian behavior, or loaded with foul-language and irresponsible behavior to survive in the ratings game. Perhaps its family-orientation, emphasis on clean living and faith, and overall positive and forward-looking theme, coupled with its success as a viable contender in the ratings wars, will be an inspiration to other programming directors and new show execs.
(photo credit: Duck Dynasty, AETV)