Jumping the Shark..in a GOOD Way

I love this time of the year. The kids go back to school, (yeah!), the deepest heat of the summer subsides and as a last hoorah, I watch Shark Week with my family. We love it, always have. Clearly, we are not alone. This graph is from Ad Age and shows the successive increase in viewership for Shark Week over the past decade. To put these numbers into perspective, the Olympics closing ceremony had just over 31 million viewers. Pretty good for a cable network running shows about sharks. As Ad Age reports, they have built this franchise over the years by having celebrity hosts like Peter Benchley. This plus the part technology has played in making some miraculous shots a reality has made it hard for viewers like me and my family to pull our eyes away from the screen. And Discovery’s persistence and creativity has paid off. Far from jumping the shark, this program now seems to have a chance to be even more popular thanks to social media and the ability of the medium to connect us Shark-ophites. But I am not the average viewer, in fact the average viewer is 31 years old, part of that coveted 18-34 year old demo. Nielsen in fact reports, “Ratings for 2012 propelled Discovery Channel to the #1 non-scripted cable network spot for P18-49 delivery and the top cable network for P/W 18-34 delivery.*” Even better news for the program given the passionate tweeting of this demo. I read a great summary of the digital performance of this show at tvbythenumbers.com. It’s laced with a lot of great “isms” and contrived phrases to boot. “On the social media front, fin-aticism hit a new high this year with more than 1.6 million Tweets about SHARK WEEK (doubling last year’s volume) with several celebrities getting in on the action from Leonardo DiCaprio to Adam Levine to Ellen DeGeneres. SHARK WEEK ranked #1 on Trendrr’s social TV charts across cable and broadcast for both August 6-12 and August 13-19. Additionally, SHARK WEEK accounted for 35% of all cable social activity from August 12-16, according to Trendrr. In the most extensive on-air social integration to date, Discovery Channel viewers had the opportunity to have their Tweets appear on television during ten hours of primetime premiere programming. Viewers also took to Facebook and Twitter to vote for the item to meet its demise in the nightly Shark Week Chompdown hosted by Philip DeFranco.” So the marketers over at Discovery not only found a great way to integrate social media, they were able to insert seemingly honest celebrity fans AND allow people to get their tweets on tv – not unique, I know, but pretty cool. For those of you who watched, you will recall Discovery’s hand at product integration as well. VW was sold on the “fin-aticism” and decided to use the program as part of its Beetle launch efforts. They created a shark cage inspired by the frame of the new Beetle. Here is a photo: I am sure the folks over at VW understood the audience and what it could do for the brand. And those of us old enough to remember will recall the urban legend (or was it real?) about the Bug actually having a tight enough air seal so that it could go in water without filling with water and thus float. So, the next logical leap is a shark cage, of course:) Still, it does go to show that Shark Week has certainly hit the big time when an automaker like VW entrusts such an important launch to a program like this. Tvbythenumbers.com also reported that “online, Shark Cam average daily visits were up 11% and visitors spent 76% more time per visit than last year, with fans getting their shark fix with the first live, 360-degree underwater camera. Overall, visits to the SHARK WEEK fansite increased 6% over 2011, with visitors streaming 11% more video than last year.” With momentum like this and a clear understanding of how the online can augment the offline, I think Shark Week is destined for some serious longevity. And my family for one is giddy!:)

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