(Photo: Facebook/Duck Dynasty on A&E)
America loves family, rednecks and ducks, apparently.
A staggering 11.8 million viewers tuned in to watch the premiere of the fourth season of the backwoods reality series "Duck Dynasty" on A&E this Wednesday to make the series the most watched reality show ever on cable television.
Among the total number of viewers were 6.3 million "in the advertiser-preferred demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds," according to a New York Times report.
"Duck Dynasty," which chronicles the lives of members of the Robertson family of West Monroe, La., and their duck call making company, Duck Commander, improved on the high ratings it garnered at the end of season three in April. The audience peaked at 9.6 million, then.
The men of the family, brothers Phil and Si, and Phil's sons Jase, Willie, and Jep, have become popular for their signature beards. Phil Robertson started the business in a family shed and spent 25 years making duck calls from Louisiana cedar trees.
"The Robertsons represent a lot things we as Americans cherish," David McKillop, the general manager and executive vice president of the A&E network told The New York Times: "self-made wealth, independence, three generations living together."
McKillop said, "Duck Dynasty" fits nicely with classic family television themes even though it is a reality show. "When the show came in, the direction I gave: This is not a hunting show, make this like 'The Waltons,'" said McKillop.
And many of the show's fans agree.
When the A&E announced the news on the show's Facebook page, which has more than five million followers on Thursday night, fans praised the show for its family friendly approach to entertainment.
"Hey. TV stations are you listening? There is no sex, violence or curse words in this show and it has a massive following. Yay for the Robertsons," wrote fan Mary Singleton in a comment that was liked more than 5,000 times.
"I so enjoy this show, I don't have to worry about cursing, disgusting gestures or remarks. I love seeing the 'love' that is truly on this show. Looks aren't everything," noted another fan Joan Evans.
The show is now so popular, Walmart announced at a recent meeting that "Duck Dynasty" T-shirts were the best sellers in the company's men's, women's and boys' sections.
The premiere of the show's fourth season on Wednesday featured the Robertson children planning a wedding for Phil and Kay Roberston, who never had a traditional wedding ceremony but were married before a justice of the peace 48 years ago.
"Duck Dynasty" surpassed other popular reality shows in the record books, such as "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which attracted 10.6 million viewers in 2009, who tuned in to hear the couple announce they were separating.