Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure most of you heard about the “scandal” last month involving Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and his controversial comments about African-Americans and homosexuals.
And as many of you already know, A&E promptly “suspended” Phil Robertson (I think it lasted about a week) for his comments.
This, of course, sparked a massive “freedom of speech” debate where tens of millions of Americans proved that they didn’t understand our First Amendment or what protections it gives us.
In fact, a recent poll showed that nearly half of all Americans don’t understand our First Amendment rights.
The general consensus following Phil Robertson’s “suspension” was that conservatives would flock to the A&E network once the show resumed to show their unified support of Phil Robertson’s right to “freedom of speech” (even though this situation has nothing to do with our First Amendment rights).
Except that doesn’t appear to be what happened. In fact, that’s not what happened at all.
The new season of Duck Dynasty debuted on January 15 and had a respectable 8.5 million viewers. Which isn’t bad — except last season’s debut saw nearly 12 million viewers tune in. That’s about a 28 percent drop from last year.
In fact, their Christmas special brought in about 9 million viewers.
Just for a quick history of the show, two years ago their season debut attracted 8.4 million viewers. So after a sharp rise and great ratings on the debut episode last year, they saw a massive drop off this year.
Yes their viewership totals are still respectable, but a 28% drop off between last season and this season’s debuts when their “brand” was seemingly on the rise is a fairly big deal.
Especially when most people felt their ratings would have seen a huge uptick in response to the outrage many Americans who don’t understand what our First Amendment protects displayed following the announcement of Robertson’s suspension.
We have to remember that advertisers had already hinted at possibly dumping their support for the show, but had seemingly hesitated due to its growing popularly. Which was bolstered by the general feeling that the show would see a ratings boost — not decline — following the whole controversy.
This may cause several advertisers to reconsider their support for the show considering there was obviously a massive exodus of support following Robertson’s extremely ignorant comments. Where before they thought the risk of supporting the show might be worth it in anticipation of higher ratings for Duck Dynasty, now that risk might not seem worth it.
And as most of us know, if advertisers start pulling out, that’s a bad sign for the future of the show in general.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, who knows. I really don’t think that it is. By all accounts Duck Dynasty’s popularity was soaring, not declining. So what these ratings numbers tell me is that ignorance does have a price — and in this case, that price is just over 3 million viewers.