Study: Millennials drive buzz around Shark Week's 30th anniversary
- The 30th anniversary of Discovery Channel's Shark Week, which ran from July 22-30, was the highest-ranking installment of the event in recent years, hitting a Buzz score of 19 on YouGov's BrandIndex, a new analysis from the researcher shows. The number also represents Discovery Channel's highest Buzz score in the past three years.
- The network's Buzz score increased by 2 percentage points or more since July 22, the airing of a special featuring celebrities like Guy Fieri, Mark Cuban, Shaquille O'Neal, Aaron Rodgers and Ronda Rousey.
- Millennial viewers helped fuel this year's Shark Week success. The age group was most likely to say they'd heard something about the Discovery Channel over the past two weeks at the start of the special, with a Buzz score of 17. By the end of the week, that number jumped to 21.
The research suggests the celebrity-filled programming for the 30th anniversary of Shark Week was appealing for millennials, which appears to goes against commonly held beliefs about the cohort, who are big cord cutters and have been shown to distrusting or indifferent to celebrity endorsements or appearances. On the other hand, millennials tend to embrace nostalgia, and that could have driven Shark Week's higher engagement among this audience segment.
Overall, Shark Week continues to be a draw for the Discovery Channel. This year's Shark Week reached 39.4 million total viewers, making it one of the highest-rated Shark Week events in the past three years, according to Nielsen data cited by The Wrap.
Brands continue to view Shark Week as a valuable tie-in opportunity, something this year's numbers supports. Southwest Airlines partnered with Discovery Channel for the fifth year around the event, unveiling a fleet of airplanes emblazoned with custom artwork featuring different kinds of sharks. The airline also released episodes early as part of its in-flight entertainment. Swedish Fish candy offered a Shark Week mobile game, co-branded packaging and an ad around the event this year.
As TV networks continue to struggle with declining viewership and ad revenue, programming events like Shark Week can help drum up interest. Overall TV ad sales dropped 7.8% to $61.8 billion in 2017, the sharpest decline in the past nearly 20 years, outside of a recession, according to Magna Global data.