Discovery’s Shark Week a ‘Jaws’ Nod

May 2, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Coming off a much-needed ratings rebound last month, Discovery Channel hopes to continue its momentum as it gears up for Shark Week, the network’s annual July jaws-fest.

This year Shark Week will be themed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the release of Steven Spielberg’s classic film “Jaws.”

The network will air the world premieres of “Shark Attack Survivors” (survivors of great white attacks tell their stories), “Shark Hunter” (the story of Frank Mundus, who inspired the Captain Quint character in “Jaws”) and “American Shark,” (exploring sharks’ hunting grounds throughout the United States). The week will be kicked off by a previously announced tie-in special with urban-legend-testing reality show “Mythbusters.”

This is the 18th year Discovery has aired a marathon of dorsal fins, chumming and feeding frenzies that the network claims is the longest-running cable programming event. The week typically increases the network’s average viewership. But according to Nielsen Media Research, last year Shark Week fell off 4 percent from 2002 and more than 36 percent from 2003.

Phil Fairclough, Discovery Channel’s acting general manager and VP of production, said Shark Week hasn’t, well, jumped the shark.

“I can firmly lay to rest the myth that Shark Week has jumped the shark,” Mr. Fairclough said. “There’s an enduring fascination with sharks and there’s no shortage of amazing stories of sharks and people who’ve survived encounters with sharks and new shark science. It’s the one creature everybody wants to talk about.

“What we’ve done this year is try and marry the new young dynamic audience that we’ve got from `Mythbusters” and use that to kick off the week.”