Shark Week

Network: Discovery Channel

Date: August 12-16, 2012

Viewers: 21.4

Key to Success: Sharks go social

For one week each year, we all like to pretend we know more about sharks than what we learned from “Jaws.” It used to be that TV fanatics readied their DVRs, and prepare to watch sharks in action, but today Shark Week has gone viral.

According to Trendrr, throughout the week of August 12, 2012, 35% of all cable-related social TV activity was about Shark Week. Discovery reveled in and paid attention to that conversation, steered fans in the right direction and enhanced the natural passion Shark Week fans express through social media.

“What we wanted to acknowledge in our 25th year is that sharks bring out an incredible range of emotion in people,” said Marina Anglim, SVP of marketing at Discovery Channel. “Some people just get goose bumps with excitement, and some just want to retreat behind their hands. We know that people naturally go to that emotive space, so our job was to bring forward that emotional range and poke at people to share their point of view.”

And let’s face it, people would talk about Shark Week no matter what – in the past 25 years, cable’s longest-running promotion (an idea that began on a cocktail napkin) has spawned online excitement, music video parodies and even “30 Rock’s” sage advice to “live every week like it’s Shark Week.” Discovery chose to accept this inevitability and fuel the conversation by offering everything from Twitter voting to Facebook giveaways to custom TOMS shoes and real game prizes.

“I think that when viewers feel invested in the outcome of a show or in what can happen on air, [they] feel like they want to be a part of what’s happening,” Anglim said. “People are even tweeting about their tweets being seen, so it’s creating this amazing ripple effect in the Twitter universe which is really fun to follow.”


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