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'Duck Dynasty' is king of the ratings on A&E

The ''Duck Dynasty'' drama

A show about a family that runs a successful duck-call business may not sound like something that would capture the zeitgeist. But A&E's Duck Dynasty, a reality series about lovable bearded millionaires from Louisiana, just attracted the network's biggest audience yet (8.6 million) for its season 3 premiere on Feb. 27. The debut may have benefited from a Morrissey protest (he canceled his Feb. 26 Jimmy Kimmel Live! appearance after he found out members of Dynasty's Robertson family were set to appear), but A&E won't give the singer/animal rights activist all the credit. ''We have built huge awareness,'' says A&E president Robert DeBitetto, citing the show's nearly 4 million Facebook followers. ''These kinds of shows don't come out of thin air. A lot of work went into it.'' DeBitetto thinks A&E — which is already talking to the Robertsons about other show possibilities — may have stumbled onto a new reality trend: nice-guy TV. ''We haven't had to resort to things that have worked well for others. It doesn't rely on a lot of negativity and bad behavior.''

Originally posted Mar 08, 2013 Published in issue #1250 Mar 15, 2013 Order article reprints