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Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

If it quacks like a duck, it must be the Robertson family

Posted by prof e on May 15, 2013

DuckDynastyIn case you haven’t heard, the current TV ratings powerhouse is a reality TV show on A&E about a family from Louisiana that made $millions making duck calls. Duck Dynasty is cleaning up in the ratings and has surpassed the long-time ratings champ American Idol (which had fallen on hard times of late).

The season finale last Wednesday attracted an amazing 9.6 million viewers and beat everything else on TV according to Nielsen. With a 4.3 rating in the desirable 18-49 demographic, DD is the highest rated reality show on cable, and only one scripted show on cable, The Walking Dead, does better.

Broadcast TV programs traditionally pull higher ratings than cable TV shows, but DD has even been beating its broadcast competitors on Wednesday nights.

Some critics have been left scratching their heads over DD’s rise to fame. Some say it is the folksy, down-home humor of the main characters. Others point to the authenticity of the relationships between the patriarch Phil Robertson, his sons, and their Uncle Si. And still others point to the Evangelical Christianity of the family members as a draw for viewers who live in the Bible Belt.

Whatever it is, Duck Dynasty is a certifiable hit…and just one more example of how good programming ideas are difficult to come by, and impossible to predict.


13 Responses to “If it quacks like a duck, it must be the Robertson family”

  1. Taylor Allen said

    Duck Dynasty is one of my favorite TV shows because of how funny it is and the christian background with the family. The show was created to document the lives of the Robertson brothers and how the company came about. As the show became more popular, they began to make more seasons and bring in more of their family members. I believe that this show has the highest ratings because of the humor from Uncle Si and the brothers. I don’t think anyone thought this show would make it as far as it has, but I am happy it is continuing to be made. They have made a huge impact on the audience and viewers so as long as the audience is happy, they show will still be broadcasted. The audiences are critically important to the people who run the television industry (Turow).

  2. Gretel Stockton said

    Though I am not necessarily a fan, I believe Duck Dynasty has become a phenomenon because it is a family oriented reality show. Most reality shows (Toddlers in Tiaras, Keeping Up With The Kardashians) document the inappropriate and shocking behaviors of people that are famous for no good reason. According to Turrow, to maintain a G rating, the content must “contain nothing in theme, language, nudity, sex, violence, etc., that would be offensive to parents whose younger children view the film” (108). Most reality shows barely meet this criteria, if at all. Duck Dynasty; however, is a show that promotes christian values and family time. Duck Dynasty reinvented the typical formula for reality TV. If I had children, I doubt reality TV would be part of their day at all, but I would prefer Duck Dynasty, to the frequent tantrums promoted in most other reality shows.

  3. Sarah Zarr said

    I am not a huge fan of the show, Duck Dynasty, but the ratings (the audits of people’s viewing behavior) show that a lot of others are huge fans (Turow 464). The “people rating”, which is the particular demographic categories of individuals within each household, is probably what gives Duck Dynasty their edge, because they know what type of audience they are dealing with (Turow 465). Since they know the age range, part of the country most viewers of the show live, and that it is okay to bring Christianity into the show it helps them to target their viewers and make them like the show more.

    I think part of the appeal of the show is the honest, normal, down-to-earth characters that people can laugh with and relate to. Since the show is so different and slightly corny it draws in the audience because it is not like most shows out there. People don’t like to watch the same thing over and over, so when something different comes along it becomes a big hit. I also think that part of the appeal of the show is that is a cross between a reality TV show and a series (a set of programs that revolve around the same idea or characters) (Turow 467). It gives you the “real life” aspect and the aspect of a story with characters that grow and develop. Duck Dynasty gives a fresh idea of reality TV; instead of making it all about the drama it makes it all about peoples’s values.
    -Sarah Zarr 12/3/2013

    Works Cited:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  4. Vanessa M. Torrez said

    Although I have only watched Duck Dynasty a few times, I did enjoy the family values put into the show and it’s a very real show. I feel as if it’s not as fake as other family shows portrayed on television. A lot of television shows don’t include christian views but I thought it was cool that this one did. Although there are many viewers out there that don’t have any religious beliefs, this show may also appeal to them. The audience of this show is very broad and there isn’t really a targetted audience and I think that’s why the show is so popular (Turow). It’s just such a different show, that anyone can get into.

    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  5. Kylie Milusnic said

    I am a huge fan of Duck Dynasty; I enjoy going duck hunting, and recently my dad even bought me a Duck Commander duck call. It is practically impossible to get away from Duck Dynasty because their merchandise is EVERYWHERE! I lived in the Bible belt for about seven years and I can totally see why it attracts so many religious viewers. They are a good, wholesome, and entertaining family that millions of people enjoy watching! Turow says that “many mass media production and distribution executives use the licensing of creating rights as a way to publicize their mass media products by making extra money on the product,” and that is exactly what Duck Dynasty is doing. They are making almost as much money on their products such as sweatshirts, blankets, duck calls, stuffed toys, and many more items as they are on their TV show!

  6. Andrea Cook said

    I believe Duck Dynasty has such high ratings because of their overall ‘sales pitch’ of a church going, hunting, loving, traditional American family. Sales pitch defined by Turow states: “a message that portrays the world of the intended audience, a problem in that world, and actions that show how the product can solve that problem.” As for the product fixing that problem I see Duck Dynasty as hope for some families, ‘maybe we can watch DD together we can be as happy of a family as they are!’

  7. Claudia Ricklefs said

    “Many critics of the U.S. television industry believe that it is the industry’s commercial motives that has led to what they consider programming that emphasizes violence, sex, and sensationalism at the expense of quality” (Turow, 477). Duck Dynasty is one show that does not focus on violence; well that is if you don’t count the hunting involved in the show. This show is a show the whole family can watch without worrying out the content that will be shown on screen. There will be no moments of “Oh Johnny, close your eyes.” I believe this is what has added to the high ratings of the show.
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  8. Karle Cordova said

    When I first heard about Duck Dynasty I couldn’t understand what all the hype was about, but once I gave it a chance I was hooked. I think that Duck Dynasty is so popular because it does appeal to a vast variety of people. According to Turow, tonnage describes a hefty number of viewers and indicates that, at least in network television, reaching larger numbers of people for advertisers is still a key goal (Turow 476). This is exactly what DD has done. The show’s characters are funny, down to earth, real, family oriented people. They don’t have all the drama that a lot of shows have now and it is a nice relief. I know people of all ages, races, both genders, people who both love and hate the outdoors and hunting, and religious and nonreligious people who enjoy watching the show. They also keep their audience engaged with the show by selling products like CDs, cooking DVDs, blankets, shirts, duck calls, and many other items.

  9. Holly Fransua said

    I am personally a big fan of Duck Dynasty. However, I do not watch the show for the Christianity. I watch the show for the fun of it. To enjoy all of Si’s hysterical comments. I feel like the show also teaches the viewers about family values, and that everyone needs to respect others and treat family with love and to also respect everyone’s wishes. The show also shows that the kids in the show are also taught how to survive with the resources around them and be spoiled and luxurious at the same time.

    The show gets the ratings it does because of all the different aspects in the show. It can appeal to almost everyone for the following reasons: hunting, family, Christianity, comedy, relationships. And can also fill that media void that people “need.” Sometimes, media can even draw out people who feel troubled and in need of friends. In other words, parasocial interaction. (Turow 17)

    Works Cited:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th Ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  10. Alex Moore said

    Duck Dynasty is a great show! I love it because they are allowed to talk about their faith and show it on television. I also like how family values are a big aspect of the show. It is also nice to see a reality show that is appropriate for all ages because not many these days are very appealing to any age. I think that this is why ratings for the show are so high! (465) They have grown to have merchandise everywhere! Anytime I go out to a store, there never fails to be something that has to do with Duck Dynasty. I don’t think anyone anticipated this show to be as successful as it has been but as long as the ratings are high, the show will still go on!

    Works Cited:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th Ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

    Alex Moore

  11. Patrick Schickle said

    I’ve never really watched Duck Dynasty but I hear great things from it. Generally speaking any tv show that a good American family can relate to will always have high ratings. Since Duck Dynasty portrays an American family, team work and togetherness along with religion, it isn’t surprising to me as to why this show is doing so well. I feel that the sales pitch here is strong. The tv show consists of an American family, their problems and how they solve them. This is a tv show I will try to watch soon.

    Patrick Schickle
    — Turow, Joseph. “Creating Portraits.” Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th ed. New York [etc.: Routledge, 2011. 540. Print.

  12. Matt Marchena said

    I can say that I am not a fan of this show. I feel like there are plenty of shows out there that are a lot more funny than this show and yet they still have the highest ratings. I don’t understand how because it really isn’t that funny and its like every other reality TV show. I will never understand how they receive such great recognition, but they are doing something right so I will give them that.

    Matt Marchena

  13. Timothy Rivera said

    I have never sat through an entire episode of this show so i can’t say weather i like it or not but as for the success of the show i think it is a good thing because it just shows how diverse reality shows can be and that they are all not about fighting and drinking. I think the success of the show is based on that the show doesn’t really have a target audience or age group, every one from the family can just sit in and enjoy the show. I think the success of this show will lead to more family oriented reality shows instead of the typical drama filled party reality shows.

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