The numbers are in, and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s cameo on “Duck Dynasty” didn’t cause ratings to take flight and soar.
The West Monroe-filmed reality TV show continued its steady slide in viewership Wednesday night, despite a visit from Jindal. In six months, “Duck Dynasty” has lost nearly 4 million viewers. Popular culture experts now can start debating whether the drop-off is due to “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson’s anti-gay remarks or to viewers’ ever-changing interests.
American television watchers preferred a dancing competition and O.J. Simpson’s legal saga to a 30-minute “Duck Dynasty” episode centered around the governor’s visit. Jindal was in town to give an entrepreneurial award to Duck Commander, the duck call business that made the Robertson family wealthy and landed them a cable TV show.
The numbers, according to Nielsen Overnight ratings:
- “Duck Dynasty” drew in 4.3 million viewers.
- “So You Think You Can Dance,” 4.4 million.
- A “CSI” rerun, 5.39 million.
- “Dateline: The People Versus O.J. Simpson,” 6.23 million.
“Duck Dynasty” did manage to attract more viewers than former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards’ reality TV show. At its peak, “The Governor’s Wife” had 1.248 million viewers.
Jindal said in prepared statement late Thursday: “Duck Dynasty is one of my favorite shows. My kids wait anxiously for each new episode and watch DVR’d episodes over and over again. I was proud to be on the show and even more proud to call the Robertsons my friends.”
The Robertsons have been a ratings powerhouse for A&E. More than 11 million people watched “Duck Dynasty” at one point, leading to a franchise of T-shirts, hats and other merchandise.
Their popularity dipped after Phil Robertson gave an interview, in which he shared his views on homosexuality and how African-Americans felt before the civil rights movement. “I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word! ... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues,” Robertson told a news reporter.
A&E Network suspended Robertson for his comments in the January issue of GQ magazine. Jindal defended Robertson as a man whose heart is filled with love. A&E reversed the suspension after Robertson’s family dug in their heels and refused to film without him. The season five finale in March drew 6 million viewers, a sharp slide from the previous August’s 11.77 million viewers.
Variety columnist Rick Kissell opined Thursday: “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.”
Phil Robertson was on camera for the season six premiere Wednesday night. Slouched in his recliner, he showed little interest as his wife paraded out possible outfits for Jindal’s visit.
The governor himself didn’t pop up until more than three-fourths of the way through the episode. A lot of time was spent depicting the Robertsons preparing a speech, cleaning up and joking around on the stage prior to the governor’s arrival. At one point, they debated what they would do if they were governor. Ideas included creating a four-day work week, banning jalapeno potato chips and ensuring that no one has to pick up after their pooch on a walk.
Jindal appeared at ease on camera. He ribbed the Robertsons and aimed a basketball into a hoop in their warehouse. It was an easy shot from a small distance, but the stakes were high. The Robertsons wanted a ride on Air Force One if Jindal missed. Jindal made the shot, avoiding an awkward call to the White House about borrowing the president’s plane.
Follow Michelle Millhollon on Twitter, @mmillhollon. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/