Several months removed from the short-lived suspension of one of its most recognizable stars, the runaway A&E hit program Duck Dynasty continues to chug along as one of reality television’s greatest successes.
Following a controversial interview in which family patriarch Phil Robertson expressed a biblical view of marriage, homosexual activists called on the network to reprimand him. Upon announcing his suspension, however, the show’s vocal fan base reacted, prompting A&E to reconsider its decision.
Phil’s son and the CEO of the company he founded, Willie Robertson, expressed gratitude toward the faithful viewers who have invited his family in to their homes for six seasons.
“We are continuously blown away at the overwhelming response from our fans,” he wrote in a recent statement; “and as long as they continue to enjoy the show and it’s message, we’ll bring them more to watch.”
Although the show has shed some ratings points from its heyday during which the average program received 12 million viewers, network executive David McKillop does not believe that has anything to do with the family’s outspoken embrace of Christian values.
“I don’t think there’s any definitive proof that the controversy itself had any impact on the ratings,” he explained. “These things tend to burn very, very bright and then begin to settle into a plateau.”
Despite a drop in viewership, the program is still a hit for A&E; and with marketing partners including Walmart, the Duck Dynasty brand shows no signs of slowing down.
“It’s a strong, strong franchise,” McKillop said, noting that all television programs – especially reality shows – hit a peak and then begin to cool with its audience.
“These kinds of reality shows based on unique or unusual people don’t usually have great staying power,” he explained, adding that Duck Dynasty “has already beaten the odds by getting into Season 6.”
Not only is Season 7 already, he said; A&E is also considering potential spin-off opportunities for the entertaining cast.