Shark Week vs. Shark Fest

Shark Week vs. Shark Fest
Credit: Universal Pictures

Discovery Channel is beginning its annual shark week special on July 11. However, most shark fans have already started the celebration early by watching the National Geographic shark special ‘SharkFest’ which began on July 5.

With a predicted 66 hours of total new coverage between both channels, viewers could be finding it overwhelming to decide which one to watch and when they should tune in to the other.

Discovery’s Shark Week, for its 33rd anniversary, will continue its annual 7 day special like it has in the past – with a number of unscripted, new coverage and reruns from past favorites. Nat. Geo’s ninth anniversary SharkFest will last for a sixth month period – meaning the rest of the summer will feature as many shark programs as viewers could want.

SharkFest prepared its 2021 premiere with Chris Hemsworth as a celebrity headliner. The Marvel Universe actor hosted “Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth”, a one-hour special event to kick off the month-long premiere.

Shark Week has become the longest-running programming event in cable TV history and is currently broadcasting in over 72 countries.

Both channels seem to have the same marketing strategies of commercial output and celebrity guests. Even the classic programs that were on both channels in the past will bring something new to this year’s viewing – either with a popular celebrity host or a tie to new unscripted coverage viewers can expect from both channels.

According to Discovery, this year’s Shark Week “Will take viewers to new locations to study and record new shark behaviors that have never been seen on camera before.”

SharkFest has hinted about its coverage including a six-part series called “Shark Attack Files” exploring “bizarre and fascinating shark behavior as well as archival content from previous shark-infested summers.” Marketing this series has been a priority for SharkFest, making viewers look forward to it amongst the other programs.

Of course both channels will feature detailed series, episodes, and interviews with scientists, divers, and celebrities besides the ones listed above. The challenge for viewers is to decide which one is more deserving of their time.

An important thing to note for this year’s shark programming – both SharkFest and Shark Week will be featured on other streaming services besides Cable TV during the period they are airing.

Last year, 21 million viewers tuned into Shark Week over a seven-day period according to Discovery, and 31.1 million tuned into SharkFest over a five-week period, according to Nat. Geo.

Even though Shark Week and SharkFest are in a rivalry to be the nation’s best shark premiere with the most ratings, they have more goals in common than they do the competition.

The point of these educational shark programs are to assist in shark conservation and debunking myths and common misconceptions. These summer specials aim to educate viewers with scientific data, real stories, and entertaining visuals of sharks in their natural habitat.

SharkFest and Shark Week will be aired across National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Nat. Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and Disney XD. Episodes for different programs can also be found on Disney + and Hulu.

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