With the uptick in shark attacks on the East Coast this year, you can almost bet that an increased number of beach-goers will be tuned into the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which began airing on Sunday, July 5.
Traditionally, Shark Week has been a mix of National Geographic-type documentaries intermingled with real-life shark attack accounts. I would say the programming leaned more towards the latter, though. However, this year, the Discovery Channel wants to tip the scales back in the other direction and has created a dedicated site called Sharkopedia. In addition, Discovery’s “finbassadors” or more commonly known as shark experts, will take over Discovery’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts to educate viewers about sharks, according to Variety.
The network has taken the social media route to push the more scientific side of Shark Week. “There are so many different ways for people to interact with ‘Shark Week’, and we are building a big, multi-platform experience that has huge reach across Facebook and Twitter,” said Discovery exec Paul Pastor to Variety. The Discovery channel has even thought of a way to include the kiddos in this social media push. They will include Snapchat stories featuring mascot Chompie Jr. as well as live-streamed Meerkat events including a live shark feeding filmed at Baltimore’s National Aquarium.
The Discovery Channel is really pushing the online content, with each TV show touting that it is “powered by” Sharkopedia or referring the viewers to the online site for more information. In reality, this seems more like a way for the Discovery Channel to kill two birds with one stone. When people complain that the TV content is exaggerated, the network can always refer back to the online content, saying that the truth can be found within those pages. “We live in a world that is both curious and judgmental when it comes to anything that smells of chicanery or lack of transparency,” said network President Rich Ross to USA Today. “When they found out [that certain programming] wasn’t true, the backlash against the channel was fierce.”
On the other hand, it’s good to see the Discovery Channel engaging so much socially in regards to the cult-like following Shark Week has created over time. In fact, there are a number of large brands that have also gotten in on the social media #sharkweek chatter. Some of favs are below:
Have ya’ll see any others?