A&E’s recently controversial reality show “Duck Dynasty” returned for its fifth season on Wednesday, drawing a slightly higher audience than its season finale in October.
Wednesday night’s premiere drew 8.5 million total viewers, inching up from the 8.4 million that the October finale drew.
In the 18-49 demographic most important to advertisers, the “Duck Dynasty” premiere had 4.2 million total viewers.
On the downside for the series, Wednesday’s premiere fell considerably short of the 11.8 million total viewers that the previous season’s premiere drew back in August. (To be fair, the August premiere set a high-water mark as the most-watched non-fiction series telecast in cable history.)
The series — which chronicles the shenanigans of the Louisiana-based Robertson family, who made a fortune manufacturing duck calls — found itself mired in controversy last year when family patriarch Phil Robertson made anti-gay comments during a “GQ” interview.
Following a protest, Robertson — who describes himself as a Christian who turned to religion after hitting rock bottom with the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle — was placed on indefinite suspension. However, a fan backlash ensued, and Robertson was quickly reinstated, without missing an episode of the series.