Duck Dynasty Breaks Cable Ratings Record, Premieres HUGE

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It's official: the beards reign supreme.

Duck Dynasty Season 4 premiered on A&E last night to positively ridiculous numbers, as 11.8 million total viewers tuned in to watch the Robertson clan do its thing, making this episode the number-one nonfiction series telecast in cable history.

“Thanks to its authentic and engaging characters ‘Duck Dynasty’ has become more than just a reality show, it is a cultural phenomenon,” said David McKillop, General Manager and Executive Vice President of A&E.  “We would like to thank the Robertsons for their incredible partnership. We are all Happy, Happy, Happy.”

Duck Dynasty Men

The premiere also set a cable mark for a nonfiction series telecast among adults 25-54 with 6.3 million viewers in that age group, while the same number of 18-49-year olds tuned in.

Compared to the Season 3 opener, this installment grew by 37% in total viewers;29% in adults 25-54; and 26% in adults 18-49. It also enjoyed more social network activity than any other program last night, including those on the broadcast networks.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.