Duck Dynasty returned for its fifth season on Wednesday, 15 January, night and did so with expectations held high for what was so often considered America's favourite reality series. The latest season's premiere episode did not wield the same kind of success that producers were hoping for however, as viewer figures for the premiere episode came in well below expectations.

Jep Robertson, Jessica Robertson, Korie Robertson and Willie Robertson
Stars (in order) Jep Robertson, Jessica Robertson, Korie Robertson and Willie Robertson may suffer from the ratings drop

At the start of the show's fourth season in 2013, before it was common knowledge that Robertson family patriarch Phil was a homophobic racist, Duck Dynasty was drawing in more than 20 million viewers per episode. This week, when the show returned for a fifth season, it only managed to draw in 8.5 million viewers at its peak, more than 12 million fewer than the amount that tuned in last year. The show suffered particularly in the much-sought-after 18-24 demographic, which made up around half of the show's viewership, with 4.2 million tuning in.

Fans of the show came out in full support of Phil Robertson when his off hand comments were made against gay and black people in the January issue of GQ magazine last month. Despite the ardent backing of the show's most loyal fans, this hasn't resulted in positive ratings, suggesting to some that this may be the beginning of the end of Duck Dynasty.

Duck Dynasty will continue to air on A&E at 10 pm (EST) every Wednesday until the show's scheduled run comes to an end. Only a serious, continued drop in ratings could result in the show being pulled off the air for good, a prospect that seems unlikely, for now.

Jase Willie Robertson
Jase [L] and Willie [R] Robertson attend the Country Music Association Awards