The season premiere of A&E's "Duck Dynasty" quacked loudly on Wednesday, drawing 11.8 million total viewers -- making it the most-watched non-fiction series telecast in cable history.
In the 25-54 demographic, the Season 4 premiere of "Duck Dynasty" also set a cable record for nonfiction offerings, drawing 6.3 million viewers in the demo.
Among the 18-49 demographic most valued by advertisers, "Duck Dynasty" set a network record for A&E, also taking 6.3 million viewers in that demo.
Compared to last season's premiere, Wednesday night's "Duck Dynasty" was up 37 percent in total viewers, 29 percent among 25 to 54-year-olds, and 26 percent in the 18-49 demo.
For the uninitiated, the series follows the shenanigans of Louisiana duck-call mogul Willie Robertson and his idiosyncratic, impressively bearded clan.
"Thanks to its authentic and engaging characters 'Duck Dynasty' has become more than just a reality show, it is a cultural phenomenon," said David McKillop, General Manager and Executive Vice President of A&E. "We would like to thank the Robertsons for their incredible partnership. We are all Happy, Happy, Happy."
As The Christian Science Monitor reported, "redneck" TV is rising in popularity, and more shows are in production.
As the popular “Duck Dynasty” (A&E) wrapped up its third season it boasted an average of 8.5 million viewers an episode. A quick review of program lineups reveals the appetite for self-described reality “redneck” shows is only growing: “Buckwild” (MTV), “American Hoggers” (A&E), “Moonshiners” (Discovery), and “Hillbilly Handfishin’ ” and “Call of the Wildman” (Animal Planet) are just a sampling of programs reveling in the adventures to be had in rural, southern America.
Why are these shows captivating TV audiences? It could have something to do with the Southern tradition of good storytelling, or the invitation to gawk at a culture vastly different from one’s own.
Eric Deggans, television and media critic for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, says there are two types of audiences drawn to these kinds of shows: one group that “feels like they’re from that world, and another that likes to mock them.”