Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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May 8, 2013

Reality TV's new stars: Small businesses

(Continued)

Despite the trouble, the show has been good for the family business. Sales of the company's duck calls, which range from $20 to $175, have skyrocketed. In 2011, the company sold 60,000 duck calls. In 2012, the year the show began airing, the company sold 300,000. "We saw a big difference as the Nielsen ratings went up," says Robertson.

Their income from doing the show may be going up along with the ratings. "Duck Dynasty" is the most watched documentary-style reality series on TV right now, according to Nielsen, which provides information and insight into what consumers watch and buy. April's one-hour season three finale was watched by 9.6 million people, making it the most watched program in A&E's 29-year history. The Hollywood Reporter reported that the cast of the show is demanding a raise to $200,000 an episode to do a fourth season. Both the network and Robertson had no comment on the report.

Cameras follow Robertson and his family as they make duck calls, hunt or go camping. One episode showed Robertson trying to prove to his dad, brother and uncle that he could spend a night in a tent during a camping trip. (Robertson ends up bringing a big recreational vehicle and is ridiculed for it. "Once you bring something with wheels that's enclosed, you're no longer camping. You're parking," says Robertson's brother, Jace Robertson, in the episode.)

To keep up with rising sales, Duck Commander hired five more people. Every duck call has to be put together by hand. "It's like a musical instrument," says Robertson. "Each one needs to be blown into it to make sure it works."

To stop the crowds from disrupting business, and to make extra cash, Robertson opened a gift shop inside the Duck Commander warehouse. "It keeps the people out of my lobby," says Robertson. The shop sells duck calls, Duck Commander T-shirts and bobblehead dolls that look like Robertson, his dad, uncle and brother, complete with their long beards.

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