This 2013 photo released by A&E Network shows, from left, Jase Robertson, Missy Robertson, Willie Robertson and Korie Robertson, in the episode "Let's Go Hunting, Deer," from the A&E Networks show, "Duck Dynasty." (AP Photo/A&E Network, Art Streiber)
LOS ANGELES — How did the recent quarrel over Phil Robertson’s social views affect the ratings for “Duck Dynasty”? It’s hard to say, based on the numbers from Nielsen.
“Duck Dynasty’s” fifth season premiere on A&E drew 8.5 million viewers overall and 4.2 million in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, according to Nielsen. In the 25-54 category, it averaged 4.1 million.
Those are big numbers for a cable reality show, though the season kickoff was down slightly in total viewers from the third season premiere in February last year, which brought in 8.6 million. Among 18-49-year-olds, the episode fell about 16 percent.
It’s also down from the record fourth season opener, which drew about 11.8 million people on average, but that episode debuted against little competition in the summer, a generally quiet time for television.
The current season opened against heavy competition from the major networks, including the season premiere of “American Idol.”
This season is the first since Robertson was briefly suspended from the show over inflammatory comments he made about gays and African-Americans in an interview with GQ magazine.
Viewership was up slightly from the fourth season finale, which averaged 8.4 million viewers, so it’s possible that the Robertson drama drummed up some interest.
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