Discovery Shifts Shark Week

Discovery Communications decision to move its highly-rated Shark Week programming block to July could give the programmer a leg up in upcoming negotiations with Comcast.

Discovery announced in late January that it would move the Shark Week block – a solid week of Shark-centric programming that has become its highest rated week – to July 5-12. Last August, the Shark Week block broke records, earning the highest ratings ever for Discovery among total viewers and women ages 25-54, as well as women ages 18-49. In addition to the July 5 debut, Discovery will also air new shark-oriented programming during a special weekend in August.

The July move, while helping to create a “summer-long” block of shark-oriented programming, also comes near the expected expiration of Discovery’s carriage deal with Comcast. And it could come in handy – Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav has been critical of Comcast’s pending $67 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable.

In public filings, Comcast has said Discovery’s opposition to the TWC deal is motivated by finances – it claimed the programmer had “demanded unwarranted business concessions” in exchange for not opposing the TWC deal. Discovery had countered at the time that Comcast’s charges were an effort to divert attention from the del’s real problems.

Also in that filing, Comcast said its Discovery deal expired in mid-2015, which would put it at or about June 30.

Discovery declined to comment.