Ratings Plummet For ‘Duck Dynasty’ Season Premiere After Star’s Gay-Bashing Interview


It turns out that a national controversy sparked by racist and homophobic remarks doesn’t necessarily result in a ratings boost for a television show.

Many speculated that “Duck Dynasty,” A&E’s hit reality series about a family of swamp millionaires who made their fortune off duck calls, would draw even more viewers after one of the show’s stars, Phil Robertson, made headlines last month for railing against “homosexual offenders,” “Shintos” and “Islamists” in a wild interview with GQ.

But rather than a ratings spike, viewership for the show’s season five premiere actually dipped considerably. Wednesday’s premiere drew 8.5 million viewers, down 28 percent from the season four premiere last August.

A&E suspended Robertson after his remarks surfaced, prompting a slew of conservatives like Sarah Palin (who later admitted that she didn’t even read the GQ interview) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) to rush to his defense.

The suspension didn’t last long, as the cable channel reneged on its decision a week later.


Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.