What becomes of a former star college football quarterback, who turns down the chance to play professional football in the NFL, and decides, instead, to get a Master’s Degree in Education and teaches for a while, but eventually chucks it all for his love of hunting?
Another hint — he was rather wild in college; drank to excess (that is, until he found “religion”), and used to come to football practice with squirrel tails hanging out of his pockets… (oh, and the tails were attached to dead squirrels.)
Still not sure?
OK… one last hint. This guy was so into duck hunting that he created his own duck call (the “Duck Commander”) and parlayed that into a multi-million dollar enterprise, including his own iconic cable TV series that turned his entire family into a highly recognizable American brand that has morphed its way into music albums, musicals and, oh yes… lots and lots of merchandise.
Allow me to introduce, Phil Robertson – the flinty-eyed, long-haired, grey-bearded Louisianan, and patriarch of the multi-generational Robertson Clan and their wildly successful A&E reality-series, “Duck Dynasty.”
When you first take a look at the Robertson men, with their ZZ Top long beards, long hair, bandanas, military hunting camouflage garb, not to mention some serious hunting weapons… well, let’s just say that (if you’re not from the rural South) you just might ask: What crocodile hole did these yahoos climb out of?
Of course, such a question is fraught with not just a little social and cultural condescension that obscures a fundamental fact about the Robertsons – that their native smarts, hard work (and a little luck) turned a small mom-and-pop business into a highly successful business venture. And in the end, you can laugh at their Bayou ways all you want (some of which are manufactured for television)… but the fact of the matter is that the Robertsons are laughing all the way to the bank, probably several times a day.
As for what the show is really all about, I’m afraid there are simply too many episodes (90 and counting) and too many Robertsons (well over a dozen of them) to render a fair description in so little space, so let’s just say that “Duck Dynasty” provides the viewer with a highly charming, entertaining slice of rural life through the lens of the Robertson’s rags-to-riches family business, not to mention a cast of very amusing family members going about their everyday lives in all sorts of (crazy) ways.
But if truth be told, a little luster has come off the “Duck Dynasty” gemstone, and the program has seen better ratings in former seasons. Much better! Still, the show delivered consistent (and solid) ratings over the past two seasons, so it remains to be seen whether the show has stabilized or is in for more viewer erosion as it begins its ninth season this January 13th:
Down on the Bayou
It shouldn’t surprise too many that a show with deep, rural Southern roots also happens to be most popular in the deep south, including the Louisiana DMAs of Monroe–El Dorado, Lake Charles and Alexandria. All three of them attained ratings that were well over double the national ratings average for the Season 8 premiere episode of “Duck Dynasty.” (Source: Rentrak)
A picture is “worth a thousand words,” so we’ve included below a heat map for the premiere episode of Season Eight (“Grooming the Groom”) that aired on June 24th, 2015. TV markets with above average viewing are rendered in warm colors (red/orange), while markets with below average viewing are in blue. As you can see, the popularity of “Duck Dynasty” runs from the southern Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, right on up through the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia:
Local Cable Advertising
Across the 19 episodes of “Duck Dynasty” that have aired over the past two seasons (2014 & 2015), 130 local cable advertisers have ordered 500 30-second spots in the show. That comes to an average of nearly 4 spots per advertiser across 39 Viamedia markets (and 96 sub-DMA cable zones.) (Source: B.I.G.SM database — Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
While local cable advertising demand has held up over the past two seasons, we’ve have seen higher levels (on a per subscriber basis) in past years. That may be a function of lower “Duck Dynasty” ratings and/or the media firestorm that the patriarch of the family, Phil Robertson, ignited with a few controversial remarks in a 2013 GQ interview. Clearly, that’s not exactly the best way to attract and hold advertisers.
In any event, the show is not suffering from a dearth of local cable automotive advertising! The two largest advertising shares belong to the automotive and automotive aftermarket, which together attract a little over 50 cents on the advertising dollar:
The Duck Dynasty Hook
What’s the “Duck Dynasty” hook that has attracted such a large following since the show first premiered in 2012? I think it comes down to the charming Bayou, rural ways of the Robertson Clan… each and every one of them.
There is, of course, the patriarch of the entire Robertson clan – Phil – who married his high school sweetheart and managed to get himself back on the straight and narrow after leading a rather sybaritic lifestyle (of many vices)… that is, until the day he became a God-fearing man. This guy manages to stay happy through thick and thin. And things got real thick for Phil the day he decided to build his own duck call from scratch (the “Duck Commander”)… and the rest is history.
And, then, there’s Phil’s brother (Silas) – just about everyone’s favorite Robertson… a Vietnam Vet, who can spin a story or two and likes taking naps and telling jokes. Phil also has two sons (Willie and Jase) with the former acting as CEO (the latter COO) of the burgeoning “Duck Commander” company. They are one of the best ying-and-yang brothers on television today with Willie the real businessman of the two, while Jase is pretty good at not working too hard and cutting things up a bit (if you know what I mean.) And there are so many other Roberstons – each unique in their own way who have all brought their amusing rural way of life into the living rooms of millions!
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– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia