Two backcountry families seem to rule reality television these days: the Browns of Alaskan Bush People and the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty. First came the Robertsons, a Louisiana family that prioritized duck hunting season and bonding with each other. As the owners of Duck Commander, a multimillion-dollar hunting equipment empire, the Roberstons live well. Duck Dynasty lasted for 11 seasons between 2012 and 2017, attracting a loyal and fierce fandom that supported all-things-Robertsons.
Then came the Alaskan Bush People in 2014. Hailing from an off-grid location near Hoonah, Alaska, the Browns are another tight-knit family that enjoyed the outdoors. However, unlike the Robertsons, the Browns didn’t have much to their name. Their home, by choice, was a makeshift shelter of branches and a tarp. When they weren’t huddled there, the family spent most of their time exploring the woods or lounging around the campfire. Later on, for medical reasons, the family moved to a secluded mountain property in Washington. The show’s last season in 2020 was it’s twelfth.
While the two families share much in common, the key differences attracted two very different fanbases. The Robertsons are favored for their business savvy and dedication to hunting. Meanwhile, the Alaskan Bush People are favored more for their ingenuity and primitive living. The argument over the better family can be made for both shows, but one did outrank the other in ratings.
Battle of the Backwoods: Did Alaskan Bush People Outrank Duck Dynasty?
Before we reveal which show snagged more viewers, it’s important to mention that numbers can only tell so much. Especially with streaming options now available, the number of cable viewers that watch a show’s premiere—while still vital information—doesn’t quite paint the full picture. That said, both Alaskan Bush People and Duck Dynasty had an impressive amount of viewers tuning in each week.
In 2018, during its eighth season, Alaskan Bush People earned the top spot in cable rankings on the night of its season premiere. It was the high-point for the show, as its Season 7 finale was previously its highest-rated episode. Averaging at 4 million viewers each week, the Browns were the second most-watched unscripted cable series during the week of its premiere.
Five years before Alaskan Bush People’s top episode, Duck Dynasty kicked off Season 4 with a bang. With a total of 11.8 million viewers, the A&E reality program held the title for the largest audience ever for a non-fiction cable series. That is to say, not only did the Robertsons beat the Browns in the ratings, but they also beat just about every other reality TV program available at the time.
So, in the face-off between the Alaska and Louisiana families, the winner this round is Duck Dynasty.