In a much-hyped ratings showdown, "Duck Dynasty" and "American Idol" both lost.
Last night's season premieres for both shows were down double-digits from the previous year: "Dynasty" attracted 8.5 million viewers, a steep drop from the 11.8 million that tuned in last August, and "Idol" notched its lowest-rated premiere since Season 1 with just (just?) 15 million viewers.
Many expected "Duck Dynasty's" numbers to be goosed (or ducked?) by all the controversy surrounding the show, following dad Phil Robertson's comments about gays and African Americans to GQ last month. (A&E briefly suspended Robertson from filming following protests by advocacy groups, then reinstated him just nine days later.)
Despite the media firestorm, advertisers still lined up to buy airtime on "Dynasty," and conservative groups rallied to Phil's defense. But all the hubbub didn't translate into record-setting numbers for A&E, which took a lot of heat for suspending Phil. (Maybe viewers are punishing the network, and not the Robertsons?) It's also worth noting that ratings for "Dynasty" declined all of last season, with 8.9 million tuning in for December's Christmas special, so maybe the Robertsons' down-home charm is just wearing thin.
Meanwhile, the sad song continues for "Idol," where a feud-free new judging panel of Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick Jr. didn't help reverse a worrying trend for Fox. Last night's Season 13 premiere makes it seven straight seasons that "Idol's" premiere ratings have declined (from a monstrous 37.4 million viewers in 2007).
Of course, 15 million viewers is nothing to sneeze at these days: "Idol" still dominated the night in total viewers and the key adults 18-to-49 demo. But this is the first time that "Idol" has fallen short of chief rival "The Voice" in that key demo, and NBC might be able to claim singing-competition supremacy if it scores big numbers when "The Voice" returns next month.
So don't blame Fox and A&E if they're singing the blues today.