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TV Column
Posted at 06:32 PM ET, 04/25/2013

‘Duck Dynasty’ third season finale shatters A&E ratings record

The Robertson family visits Hawaii. (Gurney Productions - A&E Copyright 2011)
Nearly 10 million people watched the “Duck Dynasty” gang fly to Hawaii for some much needed R&R Wednesday night, shattering A&E’s ratings record.

It was the show’s third-season finale.

To put this in perspective:

* The most watched episode in “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” history — a Halloween special — snared an average of 3.1 million viewers.

* The much ballyhooed third season finale of PBS’s “Downton Abbey” averaged 8.2 million viewers last February, and is that show’s most successful season wrap-up to date, exceeding the season 2 finisher by nearly 3 million viewers.

* History’s “The Bible” miniseries finale averaged 11.7 million viewers.

* HBO’s “Girls” second-season finale last march averaged 632,000 viewers.

* The most watched episode ever of TLC’s “Jon & Kate Plus 8” — the one in which Jon & Kate announced they were kaput — clocked 10.6 million viewers.

Until “Duck Dynasty” hit town, the most popular A&E series was “Storage Wars” which hit its peak in late November of 2011 when an episode snagged an average of 5.6 million.

“Duck Dynasty’s third season swan-song also was a hit among 18-to-49-year-olds, who are the currency of A&E ad sales.

In this age bracket, Wednesday’s episode also broke A&E records, averaging 5.6 million.

That same night, Fox’s “American Idol” attracted 4.13 million 18-to-49-year-olds.

The Fox singing competition was the most watched program overall on Wednesday night, thanks largely to its commanding lead among viewers aged 50 and older and women aged 25-to-54.

“Duck Dynasty” won in every other key measure that advertisers look at, including adults between the ages of 18-and-34 years — the unicorns of Madison Avenue.

In that age group, “Duck Dynasty” beat “American Idol” by a whopping 70 percent.

For the “Duck Dynasty” non-literate: the show has been described as a backwoods “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” only with a more interesting, forest-dwelling family.

The male members of the Robertson clan all have faces that look like great grandma’s burst horsehair sofa. The female members look like auditioners for a new edition of “Real Housewives.” The forest-dwelling Robertson clan got rich selling duck hunting supplies via their Duck Commander company.

Unlike most reality series about families (see aforementioned “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Jon & Kate plus 8”) “Duck Dynasty” is refreshingly insult-hurling, furniture-overturning, temper-tantrum-throwing free. The family even eats dinner together.

Sadly, fame seems to have gone to the Robertson’s heads and they have demanded more than $200,000 per episode to return for a fourth season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A&E assured reporters on Thursday that production will begin “shortly” on that fourth season, which is slated to premiere later in 2013.

By  |  06:32 PM ET, 04/25/2013

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