Viewers Still Flocking To Duck Dynasty

8.5 million viewers tuned in to season premiere, despite flap over Phil Robertson's anti-gay comments

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Millions of people tuned in to watch the season premiere of A&E’s Duck Dynasty Wednesday evening, even after the show’s star made controversial remarks about gays and African-Americans.

Duck Dynasty attracted 8.5 million viewers last night, according to The Hollywood Reporter, only 400,000 fewer than December’s Christmas special. Though the viewership was  far smaller than the 11.8 million viewers who tuned in for the record-breaking season 4 premiere, the show was still the most popular cable program of the evening.

MOREWhat Won’t Change About Duck Dynasty, and What Already Has

Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson came under fire late last year for a GQ interview in which he compared homosexual behavior to bestiality and suggested African-Americans were better off in the Jim Crow era.  A&E briefly suspended him from the show before reinstating him for season 5.

The show’s fourth season attracted an average of 9.4 million viewers an episode. While last night’s premiere was the most popular cable show of the evening, it did not come close to FOX’s American Idol premiere, which brought in 15 million viewers on network television.

(MORE: Duck Dynasty Premiere Recap: In Which They Tackle Tough Topics Like Emojis and Air Bud)

[Hollywood Reporter]