'Duck Dynasty' premieres to big ratings

Yahoo! TV
Duck Dynasty Season 3
Willie, Korie, Miss Kay, Jase, Phil & Si Robertson of the A&E series DUCK DYNASTY

Ducking amazing! The third-season premiere of A&E's hit hunting reality series, "Duck Dynasty," quacked up huge ratings Wednesday night, with 8.6 million total viewers tuning in to watch the Robertson family's return.

The two back-to-back episodes were A&E's biggest telecasts of all time in total viewers, for adults ages 18-49 and 25-54. And "Duck Dynasty" is now the year's No. 1 nonfiction cable series, jumping over the History Channel's "Pawn Stars."

"Duck Dynasty" benefited from a lot of buzz in recent weeks. First, singer Morrissey canceled an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" because the "Duck" cast was also booked for the talk show that evening. The ardent animal rights activist wanted to protest the show's focus on duck hunting.

Then, patriarch Phil Robertson's football-playing past was revealed in Sports Illustrated. It turns out that Robertson started as Louisiana Tech's quarterback (over eventual Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw) and turned down a chance to play in the NFL -- all so he could concentrate on hunting.

All that media attention paid off. Not only TV viewers flocked to "Duck Dynasty," but also users on social networks. It was the No. 1 social show on TV, according to Trendrr.TV, Bluefin Labs and Social Guide -- even beating out "American Idol."

Watch this mash up of Uncle Si singing his favorite pop tunes: