The Season 3 finale of A&E Network‘s Duck Dynasty was watched by 9.6 million viewers last night, a record for the series and the network. Wednesday’s season ender was up 48% over the 6.5 million who watched the Season 2 finale on December 5, 2012. With a 4.3 rating, it was the highest-rated show on both cable and broadcast Wednesday, easily beating American Idol’s 3.2. Last night’s one-hour episode garnered 5.6 million viewers in adults 25-54, 5.5 million adults 18-49 and 2.6 million adults 18-34 to become the most-watched series telecast in A&E’s history in all demos. That is a 41% rise in 18-49 over last season’s finale and a 47% rise in 25-54. With those kind of numbers, it is no surprise A&E also announced today that production on a fourth season of Duck Dynasty is scheduled to start shortly. Despite a stand-off between the Robertson family cast and producers over money, the West Monroe, LA-based family all have existing deals and are expected to show up for filming of Season 4. As for their salary demands (an increase to as much as $200,000 an episode), a new agreement is being hammered out.

Duck Dynasty is produced by Gurney Productions for A&E. Executive producers for Gurney are Deirdre Gurney and Scott Gurney. Executive producers for A&E are David McKillop, Elaine Frontain Bryant and Lily Neumeyer.

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