With Discovery Plus pitching in for the first time, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is the largest in the 33-year history of the summer stunt. Discovery and Discovery Plus offer 45 hours of shark programming this year.
Shark Week kicked off July 11 and continues through July 18. The streaming channel gives Discovery a chance to reach a new audience, and a younger one, according to Howard Swartz, senior VP of documentaries and specials/factual networks and streaming. “We can take chances with the content we put on Discovery Plus,” he said. “We can reach different audiences and we can reach new audiences.”
Discovery Plus offers two shark documentaries. Envoy: Shark Cull is centered on some big names in ocean conservation revealing the importance of sharks in our oceans. Eric Bana narrates. Fin sees director Eli Roth and a group of scientists, researchers and activists sail around the globe to investigate the death of millions of sharks, exposing a criminal enterprise. Executive producers include Leonardo DiCaprio, Nina Dobrev and Craig Piligian.
Other highlights include Air Jaws: Going for Gold, which shows the Air Jaws team at Seal Rock to capture the highest breach ever recorded; MotherSharker, which sees a team of scientists investigate where tiger sharks give birth; Great White Comeback, which looks into why great whites disappeared from South Africa; and Mega Jaws of Bird Island, also a look at great whites around South Africa.
“Great whites are such the stars of Shark Week,” said Swartz.
Celeb specials include Tiffany Haddish Does Shark Week; Jackass Shark Week, with Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O; Brad Paisley’s Shark Country; and Dr. Pimple Popper Pops Shark Week.
Shark Week also features a couple of film festivals: one centered on Sharknado on Discovery Plus, and another featuring the Jaws movies on Discovery. Sharknado stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid host The Real Sharknado on Discovery July 14, looking into whether some of the things that happened in the Sharknado movies could ever happen in real life.
Everything that airs on Discovery will be available on Discovery Plus.
Unrelated to Shark Week, National Geographic kicked off Sharkfest July 5, offering 21 hours of new premieres and 60 hours of what it calls “enhanced content.”
Swartz said Shark Week might be just what viewers are looking for after a rough year-plus. “It’s a little bit of escapism with content like this because the news was so bleak in 2020 and into 2021,” he said. “These animals, for me, have a re-enchanting-the-world quality. Their awe and wonder and beauty are so magnificent. They’re so entertaining, so fun and so full of adventure, and we think audiences really respond to that.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.