It appears the homophobic and racist comments made my Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson may have negatively affected the popularity of the show, reports Deadline.
The reality series saw a significant drop in ratings after A&E aired the premiere episode of the show's fifth season on January 15. Some 8.5 million viewers tuned in to follow the flock's latest adventures - a 28 percent nosedive from the record 12 million who quacked for the show's season 4 debut.
The Duck Dynasty premiere also saw significant drops in key demographics of its audience, including adults 18-49, which were down 33 percent and averaged 4.2 million viewers.
The show's current ratings were also lower than those of A&E's one-hour Duck Dynasty Christmas Special in December, which logged nearly 8.9 million viewers and was the first new appearance by the Robertson clan since the family's patriarch claimed LGBT people were illogical "sinners" and African-Americans were happier during the pre-civil rights era in a now-infamous interview with GQ magazine.
Though A&E quickly responded to Robertson's inflammatory comments by announcing he had been suspended from the show, the network reversed its decision days later, issuing a statement saying it "reacted so quickly and strongly" because of "core values" of "inclusion and mutual respect."
Duck season may have just kicked off on A&E, but if the new season's ratings continue to slide, we could be witnessing the beginning of this dynasty's end.