'Duck Dynasty' ratings tumble to lowest numbers since 2012
Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson on Fox News on Dec. 18, 2013.

Ratings for the A&E show "Duck Dynasty" have fallen to their lowest point since 2012 in the wake of the scandal following racist and anti-LGBT remarks by family patriarch Phil Robertson. According to entertainment industry trade paper Variety, the show is hemorrhaging viewers, with audience numbers falling by about 2 million from week to week.

"One week after returning to kick off its fifth season with a 3.3 rating in adults 18 to 49 and 8.5 million viewers overall," wrote Variety's Rick Kissell, “'Duck Dynasty' slid to a 2.9 in the demo and 6.65 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. This is the smallest same-night crowd for an original episode of the series since the second-season finale drew 6.45 million in December 2012."

As Kissell points out, it's hard to say whether the controversy itself has damaged the show's appeal, or whether it was the revelation that the long-bearded, unkempt millionaires of the Robertson family were once clean-cut country-club preppies before they got a TV deal.

Or perhaps the show is simply a one-note flash in the pan whose popularity has run its course. Kissell suggests the latter, pointing out that ratings were already trending downward at the end of Season Four, which aired before Phil Robertson's now-notorious interview with GQ.

The shows that ranked higher than "Duck Dynasty" in viewers in the key 18 to 49 demographic were "American Idol" -- the reality singing competition that launched the careers of openly gay singers Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert -- and "Modern Family," a comedy series that features a gay married couple and an ethnically diverse cast.