There’s no doubt about it: Shark Week is a yearly summer phenomenon. And it’s almost here — the week of salt water, sharks and star power arrives Sunday, July 24 on Discovery.
Believe it or not, this year Discovery will be celebrating 34 years of Shark Week. But this adventurous and entertaining week wasn’t always as popular as it is today. Since 1988, the week-long event has grown into a worldwide phenomenon that is looked forward to by millions of viewers all around the globe.
What makes it so popular? Well, the excitement, tension, and theatrics of it all certainly play a part. The more recent inclusion of celebrities such as Tiffany Haddish, William Shatner, Johnny Knoxville, Brad Paisley and others have helped peak public interest. But the viral exposure of the week goes back even further to November 2006 when Tracy Jordan, as portrayed by Tracy Morgan on 30 Rock (who will be a special guest of Shark Week this year along with the Impractical Jokers), advised Kenneth to “live every week like it’s Shark Week.” A quick Google search will show you that now famous tagline on a countless counterfeit merchandise.
Shark Week is quite the interesting TV experience. What once began as a marketing gimmick for the Discovery Channel — a way to grab people during the summer by playing into one of man’s most common fears that is statistically highly unlikely to occur to most people — has now grown bigger than the producers could have ever imagined.
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The annual celebration does utilize some airtime to promote conservation efforts and draw attention to the issues shark populations face. However, in recent years the oceanic event has leaned heavily into more hammy, melodramatic programming, producing programs in recent years such as Alien Sharks: Greatest Hits, Shark Tank Meets Shark Week, and Guy Fieri’s Feeding Frenzy.
This year, Shark Week will have arguably its biggest star celebrity host yet: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Discovery has even sent two Shark Week themed blimps flying across the East and West Coasts ahead of Shark Week, asking fans to post and share photos if either blimp is spotted.
It seems once again that millions of people will be tuning into Shark Week. Will you?