After ratings dip, Discovery moves Shark Week back to late July

Shark Week
Shark Week is returning to its traditional late-July air date this year after a ratings decline in 2016. Image: Discovery

Discovery Channel learned its lesson after last year’s ratings decline and has moved Shark Week back to late July this year.

The TV event, which returns for its 29th year and is gearing up for its 30th anniversary in 2018, kicks off on July 23. That marks a shift back to its more traditional timing after last year it aired in early July and suffered a ratings decline.

Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said during his company’s second-quarter earnings call last year that the timing change was in order to avoid competing with the 2016 Summer Olympics and to align Shark Week with the July Fourth holiday.

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“There were a lot of people still working. When we've done it in August, we get a huge boost in date & day and late night, because people are just hanging out, and the kids are—kind of the dog days of summer. So I think you'll see next year, it will be going back into late July, early August where we found the most success,” Zaslav said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Although the 2016 Shark Week was still relatively successful compared to past events, Zaslav said that the event dropped off from the previous two years when Discovery got to a “whole different level.”

RELATED: Discovery profits spike 43% in Q2 on strong performance of U.S. cable networks

Elsewhere in its Upfronts announcements, Discovery Channel revealed its 2017-2018 television season lineup will feature 20 returning series and 18 new ones. Among the new series are “House of Cars,” “Darkness,” and a relaunch of “Cash Cab.” The majority of Discovery Channel’s new programming is unscripted, but the network is planning a scripted anthology series called “Manhunt: Unabomber,” which will focus on a criminal profiler’s search for Ted Kaczynski.

TLC is promising 120 more hours of original programming this season after seeing its primetime ratings climb 20% in 2016. The network has a number of returning shows and this season is planning a four-day event called “This is Live Life,” which will be accompanied by a live finale and a live digital after-show.

TLC will also join Discovery Channel in going direct-to-consumer with the launch of Amazon Channel tied to “Say Yes to the Dress.” According to Broadcasting & Cable, the app will cost $3.99 per month and have more than 500 hours of programming. It joins Discovery Communications’ other Amazon Channels including Investigation Discovery and Destination Unknown.

Animal Planet may have the most expansive slate of new programming for the upcoming season among Discovery Communications’ networks. New series on the network include “Animal House” and “Cat Meets Dog” (both working titles) as well as “My Fat Pet,” “Expedition Mungo,” and “Rescue Dog to Super Dog” (another working title).

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