The History Channel’s The Bible is one of two cable shows generating massive ratings and stunning Hollywood. The Bible’s first-night ratings were so big that it even bested Fox’s American Idol.
The second installment of this five-part mini-series airing at 8-10 p.m. Sundays through Easter — the first foray into scripted drama for “Survivor” creator Burnett — drew 10.8 million viewers, good for number one in its timeslot and number 11 overall for the week. Even bigger was part one the week before, which amassed an audience of 13.1 million viewers, cable’s largest of the year. That series premiere topped the ratings for both of the week’s episodes of “American Idol.”
For a show about an old book, with no big stars and no cliffhanger ending to keep you guessing, that ain’t bad.
The other cable show that’s making ratings waves is, superficially, not like The Bible at all. Duck Dynasty hasn’t crushed American Idol, but it did set a record for its network a couple of weeks ago.
Wednesday night’s third-season premiere of A&E’s reality series “Duck Dynasty” was the most-watched nonfiction show on cable television so far this year, crushing much of the competition on the broadcast networks, especially among the younger viewers of most value to advertisers.
“Duck Dynasty” attracted a vast audience for cable, 8.6 million viewers, the most for any nonfiction show on cable in 2013. But the 10 p.m. half-hour of “Dynasty” also pulled in five million viewers in the 18- to 49-year-old age group, the one that most networks sell to their advertisers.
That topped every half-hour on broadcast television Wednesday night, except for the last half-hour of “American Idol” on Fox. Over all for its two hours, “Idol” finished behind, however, with 4.87 million.
Ducks did beat ABC’s network fare that night, the critically-acclaimed Modern Family. NBC barely registered a blip against the multimillionaire makers of duck calls.
In fact, if the ducks were to have been shown on NBC, it would easily be the top show of the last two months on that network, and better than any entertainment show except “The Voice.”
For a show about self-described rednecks who make hunting gear and goof off a lot, that ain’t bad.
The Bible and Duck Dynasty strongly hint that we have an underserved audience in America. While both shows are very different in presentation, they’re similar in content: Both respect and celebrate traditional values. The Bible treats its subject matter with reverence and respect. Duck Dynasty showcases a family who all seem to get along, they don’t throw swears around all the time, they take life with a lot of humor and common sense, they’re authentically American success stories, and they pray and celebrate Christian faith on camera. It’s good, smart TV without being ridiculous or attacking anyone. It’s everything that shows like Real Housewives of Wherever and Keeping Up With the Inexplicably Famous aren’t and never will be.
We DVR the stew out of Duck Dynasty here in the Tatler household and it’s becoming a go-to for re-watching when there’s nothing else on. I kid you not — neighborhood kids come to our house and have been known to drop off the PlayStation for an episode of Ducks. We’re part of the underserved audience that Hollywood is out of touch with and doesn’t care about, I guess. We’re only, what, about half the country?