Shark Week 2019: Discovery Channel Sees 109% Jump in TV Ad Impressions

On Sunday, Discovery Channel wrapped up another edition of Shark Week — its iconic programming block that’s become an annual pop-cultural obsession. We took a look at the advertising and viewership trends for the week to see how much of a bump Discovery got from the scary and fascinating franchise.

According to, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company, there were nearly 1 billion (992.5 million) primetime TV ad impressions on Discovery Channel during Shark Week (July 28 through Aug. 4), a 109.2% increase from primetime impressions in the seven days before. Interestingly, there were actually slightly fewer primetime ad airings during Shark Week — 975 compared to 992 in the seven days before.

Here’s a look at the Shark Week primetime programs that generated the most TV ad impressions:

iSpot also has attention analytics that measure the average percentage of an ad that is played across TV devices, called the iSpot Attention Score. For Shark Trip: Eat Prey Chum, the ad with the highest Attention Score (98.22) was Applebee's All You Can Eat Riblets, Tenders + Shrimp 'More More More' Song by Andrea True Connection. (Apparently watching sharks feast tends to work up an appetite in human viewers?) For Capsized: Blood in the Water, the ad with the highest Attention Score (98.15) was Discover It Miles Card TV Spot, 'Scuba Diving.'

Shark Week Viewership Insights

The map below, via Inscape, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 11 million smart TVs, shows hot spots of viewer location during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

Top DMAs include Panama City, FL; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY; Corpus Christi, TX; Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL; Mobile, AL-Pensacola, FL; and Myrtle Beach-Florence, SC, among others.

Here’s a look at viewership crossover from some of the popular airings during Shark Week, also courtesy of Inscape. A note about methodology: You have to do more than just flip past a station with your remote to count as a “crossover viewer” in Inscape’s system. For the data below, the minimum viewing threshold is 10 minutes.

Some highlights:

  • The biggest crossover by far: 60% of people who watched Expedition Unknown: Megalodon also tuned into Shark Trip: Eat Prey Chum — and it’s worth pointing out that those two programs were the ones that kicked off the week on Sunday, July 28, airing one after the other.
  • Another top crossover: 49% of viewers who watched Shark After Dark also tuned into Shark Trip: Eat Prey Chum.
  • On the low end: only 25% of viewers who watched Shark Trip: Eat Prey Chum tuned into Sharkwrecked: Crash Landing.

Inscape also looked at crossover between the programs that kicked off Shark Week and the airings that occurred as it was winding down:

In general, crossover was higher for programs that aired on the same day, suggesting viewers were tuned in for several hours during nightly binge-watching sessions. Sharks Gone Wild, which aired on Saturday, had the lowest crossover among the group — but it’s worth pointing out that of those viewers, 31% had watched Expedition Unknown: Megalodon and 40% had watched Shark Trip: Eat Prey Chum, which were the first two airings of Shark Week, suggesting that those were diehard fans eager to tune in at both the start and the end of the week.

Social Video Analytics for Shark Week

According to video measurement company Tubular Labs, Shark Week video views began gaining steam in late July right before the event began. Daily cross-platform (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter) views peaked with 24.4 million views on Monday, July 29 and remained at over 10 million per day through Aug. 3.

Discovery Channel, as you’d expect, owned the conversation around the event, with seven of the top 10 creators of Shark Week videos controlled by parent company Discovery Inc. Topping that list was former NASA engineer and YouTube star Mark Rober, who earned 29.7 million views around one video: Testing if Sharks Can Smell a Drop of Blood.

Facebook feeds for Discovery and Shark Week were next in terms of views, both topping 20 million views from July 1 through Aug. 4. Food Network, which is owned by Discovery Inc., also got in on the action. The network generated 5.1 million views around Shark Week from its Facebook feed, and another 3.9 million on Instagram — all talking about foods that viewers could pair with Shark Week.