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'Duck Dynasty' returns to break cable ratings records

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Attention TV viewers of Earth: The time has come to bow down before "Duck Dynasty."

The unscripted series on A&E returned for its fourth season on Wednesday night and promptly became the most-watched nonfiction series telecast in cable history, with an audience of 11.8 million viewers tuning in.

The show's one-hour premiere, which introduced previously unseen Robertson family member Alan Robertson, featured Duck Commander founder Phil Robertson renewing his vows with his wife, "Miss Kay." The Robertson clan operates the successful duck call company out of West Monroe, La.

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The premiere was up 37% over the third season premiere in February.

The episode also set records in individual demographic categories, with 6.3 million adults ages 25-54, 6.3 million adults ages 18-49 and 3 million adults 18-34, making it the network's most-watched episode in all the key demos.

Keep in mind, however, that the Robertson clan still lags behind the fictional zombies on AMC's "The Walking Dead," which grabbed 12.4 million viewers for its third season finale earlier this year. But it's way ahead of previous unscripted champs like "Jersey Shore" and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

The Robertson family reportedly signed a new deal just before the new season aired, giving them all significant salary bumps. With ratings like this, A&E is surely pleased with its investment.

In a statement, David McKillop, general manager and executive vice president of A&E, said, "We would like to thank the Robertsons for their incredible partnership. We are all Happy, Happy, Happy."

[For The Record: 8/15 1:29 p.m.: In a previous version of the photo caption, Missy Robertson was misidentified as Sissy Robertson.]

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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