Shark Week Swims Back to Discovery

A long-running summer staple, Shark Week returns to Discovery Channel with bigger sharks and more awe-inspiring breaches on Sunday, August 9, and continues through August 16.

The event will boast more than 20 hours of shark programming throughout the week, also celebrating the 20th anniversary of Air Jaws. This year, the pop-culture phenomenon will take viewers to oceans around the world, revealing insights into the mysterious world of these often-misunderstood creatures.

“The biggest difference this year has been all of the production challenges caused by the global lockdown,” Howard Swartz, Discovery’s senior VP of documentaries and specials, tells TV Real. “But this has also led to some incredibly unique opportunities. Once we were able to safely resume production with local crews in great white shark hotspot areas around New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, our research teams had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe these sharks in an environment where there had been no human activity over a period of several months. It revealed some fascinating and unexpected behaviors.”

In its 32nd year, Shark Week will feature 20 premiere hours “that consist of a great mix of science, adventure, celebrity and, of course, amazing sharks,” says Swartz. “It’s the 20th anniversary of our amazing Air Jaws franchise, which provides the most compelling iconic images of flying sharks.”

Air Jaws: Ultimate Breach Off is set to air August 9 at 8 p.m. Three teams of researchers return to one of the last hunting grounds for ‘Air Jaws.’ They will use decoys, drones and underwater cameras to count the number of breaches and collect data on hunting techniques to see if the shark population is rebounding. Air Jaws 2020, airing August 13 at 8 p.m., celebrates 20 years of flying sharks with Jeff Kurr, Chris Fallows, Dickie Chivell and many more as they revisit the most popular and iconic Air Jaws moments.

Further highlights include Tyson vs. Jaws: Rumble on the Reef, featuring legendary boxer and entrepreneur Mike Tyson; Shark Lockdown, as researchers built a self-propelled cage to see how hunting patterns of female great whites have changed; and Will Smith: Off The Deep End, in which the Hollywood star confronts his fear of the open seas and the open jaws of nature’s fiercest predators; and Jaws in America (working title), with Snoop Dogg looking at why great whites are taking up residence along America’s shores.

Alongside the linear programming, Discovery has extended the Shark Week experience to viewers in new and innovative ways through digital and social media platforms, partnerships with nonprofit groups, affiliates, education programs and more.

“One of Discovery’s main missions is to be strong and relevant across all platforms,” says Scott Lewers, Discovery’s executive VP of multiplatform programming, factual and head of content at Science. “Shark Week is our tent-pole event every year, and this year fans will be able to experience and celebrate Shark Week on more platforms and devices than ever before. In addition to the incredible lineup of great shark shows on linear, we are also serving up content to viewers where they are and how they want to experience it.”

New Discovery GO originals include MrBeast Shark Challenge, following as YouTube phenom MrBeast and his crew team up with shark expert and marine biologist Luke Tipple to take on a shark challenge, plus The Daily Bite, is back for its third season. “Shark enthusiasts will also have access to a new voice skill on Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices with everyone’s favorite finned friend, Bob the Shark, dishing up shark facts and jokes,” Lewers says. “Shark lovers of all ages can start each day of Shark Week with Pinkfong’s Baby Shark TV sing-a-long. We’re happy to bring this annual event to everyone during a time we all need it more than ever.”

To kick off the week, Discovery is giving fans a chance to win an all-inclusive shark dive trip for two plus $2,000 cash. Viewers who tune in to Josh Gates Tonight during Shark Week will find clues to answer trivia questions on Fans will also be able to enter by tweeting with hashtags #JoshGatesTonight and #SharkWeekSweepstakes.

“People love and are fascinated by sharks,” says Swartz. “They tap into something primordial in all of us. They have survived every mass extinction and have been around for hundreds of millions of years and have evolved into the perfect apex predator. And through 32 years of celebrating these magnificent creatures and making them the stars of Shark Week, we’ve enlightened viewers to their importance to the overall health of the planet. Shark Week isn’t just about one week of TV a year, it’s a commitment to showing the world through fun and entertaining programs just how magnificent and wonderful these animals are. As a result, Shark Week has become a must-watch pop-culture phenomenon and is synonymous with summer!”