In the past few years, I’ve gotten caught up in the whole Shark Week trend, and I mistakenly thought that it was a new thing, until I looked it up and discovered that it’s been around since 1987! For those of you that aren’t familiar, Shark Week is a week long series of TV programming on Discovery Channel that is dedicated to the ocean’s most terrifying creature: the shark.
With everything from shark documentaries to low-budget flicks like Sharknado, this week long adventure is a couch potato’s dream come true. But why sharks? According to an article in TIME, back in the eighties when Discovery Channel was relatively new and trying to experiment with ways to attract viewers during the summer, they decided that a greatly feared fish like the shark would get more attention. And they were right.
The event has gained a cultish following, and over the years has offered an appealing variation of content, from docudrama-style narration and action footage to movies and fantasy horror flicks. And since 1995, Shark Week has drawn an audience of more than 20 million, hitting a record of 29 million viewers in 2008. Starting in 1994, Shark Week added celebrities to the roster, featuring various big names as the hosts of the various shows featured during Shark Week, among them supermodel Heidi Klum and talk show host Craig Ferguson.
Another thing that Discovery Channel attempts to do is maintain shark activism throughout its programming. While one may be afraid to go in the water after watching all one of the many features about shark attacks, the series stresses the statistics over the course of the week, like by reminding viewers that sharks attack humans on average less than 63 times a year, and that a majority of shark attacks occur due to the victim being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Shark Week has come a long way since its inception in 1987, and is now distributed to more than 100 million homes in the U.S. and to over 180 different countries. Shark Week officially began this week. Get all the gory drama while you can! —Kamala Kirk