Home | National | Duck Dynasty: Did Phil's anti-gay slurs hurt Duck Dynasty's ratings? Hit A&E show sees 28 per cent DROP in viewers for Season 5 premiere

Duck Dynasty: Did Phil's anti-gay slurs hurt Duck Dynasty's ratings? Hit A&E show sees 28 per cent DROP in viewers for Season 5 premiere

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  • Wednesday night's Season 5 premiere of the A&E reality TV show attracted just 8.5 million viewers - a 28% drop compared to last season's opener
  • The shock data snaps a streak of ratings records and represents the show's first ever season-to-season fall in numbers
  • Among adults aged 18-49, the drop was 33 per cent, with just 4.2 million viewers tuning in to catch the redneck millionaires shoot ducks
  • The back-to-back episodes were Robertson's first appearance since he labeled homosexuality a sin and offended African-Americans in GQ

By Daily Mail Reporters

PUBLISHED: 17:06 EST, 16 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:09 EST, 16 January 2014

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Ratings fall: Phil Robertson's anti-gay slurs appear to have upset more Duck Dynasty fans than first thought

Ratings fall: Phil Robertson's anti-gay slurs appear to have upset more Duck Dynasty fans than first thought

Phil Robertson's anti-gay slurs appear to have upset more Duck Dynasty fans than first thought.

Wednesday night's Season 5 premiere of the A&E reality TV show attracted just 8.5 million viewers - a 28 per cent drop compared to last season's opener.

The shock data snaps a streak of ratings records and represents the show's first ever season-to-season fall in numbers.

Among adults aged 18-49, the drop was an even more stark 33 per cent, with just 4.2 million viewers tuning in to catch the redneck millionaires shoot ducks, according to Deadline Hollywood.

While the figures are still impressive for a cable series, the Season 4 premiere drew nearly 12 million fans.

Wednesday's back-to-back episodes were Robertson's first appearance since the bearded patriarch labeled homosexuality a sin and also offended African-Americans in a GQ interview.

The remarks saw A&E initially suspend the star before an intense backlash by fans forced the network to reverse its decision and reinstate him.

The episodes, like almost all of the season, had already been shot when the contentious article hit newsstands.

Earlier this month, it emerged Robertson was plotting revenge on the TV network behind his hit show and reportedly has a plan in the works to move his family - plus millions of dollars of advertising and merchandise revenue - to another broadcaster.

Humiliated by A&E's attempt to silence his conservative religious message, Robertson - whose Duck Commander business is worth an estimated $15 million - is secretly plotting to form his own TV production company so he can jump ship to a Christian channel more in keeping with his views.

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The Robertson clan have teamed up with Mossberg to create nine different shotguns, as well as two semiautomatic rifles and a semiautomatic pistol

The Robertson clan have teamed up with Mossberg to create nine different shotguns, as well as two semiautomatic rifles and a semiautomatic pistol

Robertson, 67, recently served a short suspension from the hit show after his homophobic and racially insensitive comments but a massive outpouring of support from Conservative supporters including Sarah Palin convinced A&E to take Robertson back or risk losing their most important cash cow.

The Season 4 premiere of Duck Dynasty last August drew a record 11.8 million viewers and total revenues for 2013 are estimated at $885 million. 

The public support for the comments have convinced the wily businessman that he and his family could be better served elsewhere on a network more understanding of his views – such as overtly religious TV networks Trinity Broadcast Corporation and Christian Television Network.

He is also reported to be unhappy at how A&E has portrayed the extremely wealthy Robertson clan as ignorant hillbillies.

'A&E messed with the wrong redneck,' a source close to the show told the National Enquirer. 'Phil has agreed to return, but he’s already working on getting out their contracts.'

Back in August the Robertson clan signed a new contract with A&E for $200,000 per episode. That contract is supposed to keep the family tied to the network for several more seasons, but Robertson is confident that he can get them out of it on a technicality after the forthcoming fifth season ends.

The Robertson clan are worth an estimated $15 million based of the back of the Duck Commander that Phil launched back in the 1970's

The Robertson clan are worth an estimated $15 million based of the back of the Duck Commander that Phil launched back in the 1970's

Phil Robertson believes his family could be better served by a network more understanding of his views such as the Christian Television Network

Phil Robertson believes his family could be better served by a network more understanding of his views such as the Christian Television Network

'He's confident lawyers can find a loophole and get them out of any long-term commitments,' said the source. 

'Phil wants to use his company name Duck Commander as the title for an entirely new show that they can produce themselves and be in control of what goes on.'

Robertson founded Duck Commander back in the 70's, selling duck calls that developed a loyal following among hunters.

Now that the family are stars in a top-rated cable-TV series, their business has expanded to sell a vast array of backwoods-themed merchandise via a number of national retailers.

Shoppers at Cabela's, Wal-Mart and Target can find Duck Commander branded items including DVDs, $15 action figures, $50 camouflage bedding sets, video games, throw rugs, a cookbook, coolers, T-shirts, caps, hoodies, underwear and, of course, the duck calls that started it all.

The businessman is set to capitalize even further on his huge popularity with conservatives with the launch of his own line of Duck Commander guns, reported CNN Money.

The Robertson clan have teamed up with Mossberg to create nine different shotguns, as well as two semiautomatic rifles and a semiautomatic pistol.

The shotguns come in a 'waterfowl pattern' camouflage design and Mossberg has already begun shipping them to distributors.

Reinstated: Phil Robertson won't miss a day of filming after his brief hiatus was reversed by A&E

Reinstated: Phil Robertson won't miss a day of filming after his brief hiatus was reversed by A&E

Not all of the weapons are intended for duck hunting: The pistol and one of the rifles have military-style designs with large capacity magazines holding at least 25 rounds

Not all of the weapons are intended for duck hunting: The pistol and one of the rifles have military-style designs with large capacity magazines holding at least 25 rounds

The family features prominently in a series of ads for the new guns on Mossberg's website. In one of the videos Phil says: 'Do you know what makes me happy ladies and gentlemen? To blow a mallard drake's head smooth off.'

Not all of the weapons are intended for duck hunting. The pistol and one of the rifles have military-style designs with large capacity magazines holding at least 25 rounds. The rifle has some of the features of an assault rifle, but with a relatively low .22 caliber.

On its website Mossberg says the .22-caliber pistol is 'perfect for small game, plinking, target shooting - or clearing cottonmouths out of your duck blind.'

All the firearms come with an American flag bandana 'like the one worn by Willie,' one of Robertson's sons.

In an earlier statement to FoxNews, the Robertson family said they were 'excited to keep making a quality TV show for our dedicated fans, who have showed us wonderful support.

'We will continue to represent our faith and values in a positive way through Duck Dynasty and our many projects that we are currently working on.'

All of the Duck Commander firearms come with an American flag bandana 'like the one worn by Willie,' one of Robertson's sons

All of the Duck Commander firearms come with an American flag bandana 'like the one worn by Willie,' one of Robertson's sons

Stardom: Two of the unlikely reality TV stars of Duck Dynasty, brothers Silas 'Uncle Si' Robertson (left) and Phil Robertson

Stardom: Two of the unlikely reality TV stars of Duck Dynasty, brothers Silas 'Uncle Si' Robertson (left) and Phil Robertson

'The outpouring of support and prayers has encouraged and emboldened us greatly,' the family added.

A&E reinstated Phil on the reality show after discussions with the Robertson family and consultations with 'numerous advocacy groups'.

But despite consulting advocacy groups, many spoke out against Phil's reinstatement - the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) told Fox News the network was just greedy to capitalize off the hit show.

'Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists. If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A+E has chosen profits over African American and gay people – especially its employees and viewers,' the statement said.

The removal of the 67-year-old patriarch from the show was lauded by gay rights organizations, but fans of the show denounced it as a violation of Robertson's right to free speech.

The fifth season of Duck Dynasty will premiere on A&E later this month, but future series could be in jeopardy

The fifth season of Duck Dynasty will premiere on A&E later this month, but future series could be in jeopardy

Conservative supporters include Sarah Palin, who wrote in a Facebook post: 'Free speech is an endangered species. Those intolerants’ hatin’ (sic) and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.'

A&E initially took action after Robertson's comments caused uproar, saying his views were 'disappointing' and that A&E has always been 'strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.'

Now, the network says the family has made it clear that they are sorry if they caused any offense with the patriarch's remarks.

'While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the "coarse language" he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article.

'He also made it clear he would "never incite or encourage hate." We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold,' read the statement.

Strong marriage: Miss Kay and Phil Robertson have been married for 47-years and began dating when she was 14 and he was 18 - they married when he was 20

Strong marriage: Miss Kay and Phil Robertson have been married for 47-years and began dating when she was 14 and he was 18 - they married when he was 20

The homophobic comments from the born-again Christian included such insights as, 'It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus.

'That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical.'

He also grouped homosexuals in with terrorists, saying, 'We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job. We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus - whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later, you see what I'm saying?'

GLAAD hit back soon after the interview was released online, calling him a 'stain' on the network.

GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz told E! News: 'Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe.

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the "Duck Dynasty" TV series, center, leaves the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La. on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. Robertson was suspended in early December for homophobic comments

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the "Duck Dynasty" TV series, center, leaves the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La. on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. Robertson was suspended in early December for homophobic comments

'He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans - and Americans - who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.

'Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.'

In addition to his anti-gay rhetoric, the duck hunter also made dubious remarks regarding Louisiana before the Civil Rights Movement.

'I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field,' said Robertson.

'They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, "I tell you what: These doggone white people" - not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: "Were they happy?" They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.'

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