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The national and local mystery of "Duck Dynasty"

By Alan Pergament

I watched the extraordinarily popular A&E series "Duck Dynasty" in April for the first time by accident.

I was at the Final Four in Atlanta watching Syracuse go down to Michigan with my older son, who had a buddy there who put us up for the weekend in his beautiful suburban home.

After Louisville won the title by beating Michigan, we returned to the home of my son’s friend fully expecting to grab a brew and watch ESPN's "SportsCenter" like any red-blooded American would after attending a national title basketball game.

But my son's friend -- a very bright University of Richmond graduate who is making a great living in the financial industry -- was watching "Duck Dynasty."

And happier than a Louisville graduate. 

He was laughing loudly at this modern-day "Beverly Hillbillies" family which had made its fortune via a successful duck-call business.

If I recall -- and remember it was late at night and I had a beer -- the Robertson family consisted of a casually-dressed guy with a lot of hair on his face who was married to a beautiful woman, had a couple of well-fed kids and seemed to have what politicians refer to as strong family values.

How beautiful is his wife? Let's just say he did as well in the marriage department as PGA champ Jason Dufner.

My son's friend was very amused about everything that went on, as apparently is most of America.

I didn't get it then and still don't.

I suppose that says something about me.

I'm guessing Americans are like my son’s friend -- they enjoy watching (and laughing at) people with an insane amount of money who don't generally fit TV's description of the rich. After all, TV shows generally make the rich out to be villains, not people to celebrate. Think about how often that happens on "Law & Order."

I bring this up because the extraordinary national ratings for the fourth season premiere of "Duck" Wednesday night made me wonder about how it played in Western New York.

According to USA Today, "Duck" drew almost 12 million national viewers, set a record for non-fiction cable series and had a bigger audience than anything on TV Wednesday night. In other words, the Robertsons are more popular than the Kardashians.

I suppose that is a good thing.

About half of the "Duck" viewers were in the demographic bracket of my son's friend.

How did the hour-long premiere do in Buffalo?

Very well. It had a 5.7 rating here on Wednesday, beating everything in the 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot here but Channel 4's 10' O’Clock News on WNLO, which averaged a 6.4 for the half hour.

"Duck" beat an original episode of "Camp" on Channel 2, a repeat of "CSI" on Channel 4, an episode of "Lookout" on Channel 7 and Channel 2's 10 p.m. news on WUTV.

It is an impressive local accomplishment since as a rule WNYers watch more broadcast TV shows than the national average.

This is all a prelude to a shameless plug. In this Sunday's Buffalo News, my column explains what WNYers watched on broadcast and cable channels in July. I think you will find some of the results more surprising than the success of "Duck Dynasty."

One more ratings note: Channel 7’s new "Good Morning" got some encouraging news Thursday. It still finished a poor third. However, its ratings rose from earlier in the week. It was an odd morning, with Channel 4’s "Wake Up!” winning at 6 a.m. with a 5.0 rating. Channel 2’s "Daybreak," which usually wins in the morning, was second with a 3.4. Channel 7’s "Good Morning" had a 2.4 rating, which is much higher than Channel 7 normally gets.

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Television | TV news
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