This year’s Shark Week—which marks the 30th anniversary of Discovery Channel’s annual programming event—is currently underway, with some 20 hours of content and a star-studded lineup that includes Bear Grylls, Shaquille O’Neal and Guy Fieri.
Over the past three decades, Shark Week has served viewers hundreds of shows meant to satisfy their voracious appetites for shark-themed programming. “Since year one, Shark Week has always been about highlighting the majestic, awe-inspiring, understudied lives of sharks,” says Scott Lewers, the executive VP of multiplatform programming and digital media for Discovery and Science. “What has evolved over the years is how the week has not only continued to be a major educator to a mass audience about these creatures, but also a pop-culture phenomenon that celebrates them.”
Now, there’s “more Shark Week than ever before, with more linear hours, multiplatform extensions and some well-known faces.” The 2018 edition kicked off over the weekend and continues through July 29. Among the programs yet to broadcast are Air Jaws: Back from the Dead tonight at 8 p.m. and Shark Tank Meets Shark Week tonight at 9 p.m. “I love the fact that we have a crossover episode with the cast of Shark Tank for Shark Tank Meets Shark Week,” says Lewers. “This has been a five-year plan that we were finally able to make happen.”
The remaining upcoming highlights are SharkCam Stakeout tonight at 10 p.m.; SharkCam Strikes Back, Sharkwrecked and Tiger Shark Invasion tomorrow starting at 8 p.m.; Megalodon: Fact vs. Fiction, Bloodline: The Spawn of Jaws and Great White Shark Babies on Friday in the same time slot; Return of the Mega Shark and Sharks Gone Wild on Saturday beginning at 9 p.m.; and Naked and Afraid of Sharks on Sunday at 9 p.m.
Alongside the linear lineup, Discovery is offering a variety of content for digital and social media platforms. “We have native social with shark news, time capsules and 100 shark-related GIFs featured in GIPHY sticker functions on all chat devices,” says Lewers. “Whatever platform you are on this summer, we will be there.”
There are also virtual reality elements, which were first introduced during the 2016 edition of Shark Week. “We have two great VR integrations with Dairy Queen and Quicken Loans that [are] available on our VR and social platforms,” says Lewers. In addition, Discovery has entered into merchandising partnerships with a slew of brands, including Swedish Fish, Build-A-Bear, Walmart and Princess Cruises.
Shark Week 2018 is upholding the annual tradition of providing “a mixture of serious science and pop-culture goodness,” according to Lewers. “We are determined to keep it fresh each year and the fact that it has been around—and has been strong—for 30 years shows that the formula works,” he says, adding that he hopes the franchise will continue to be successful for another three decades to come.