July 9, 20233 min read

Feeding Frenzy: How Shark Week Viewers Engage With TV Ads

It’s truly a wonder to consider that this year marks the 35th anniversary of Discovery Channel’s beloved Shark Week. Since its premiere on July 17, 1988, this annual programming block continues to captivate viewers’ insatiable fascination with the deep ocean. Set to once again grace our screens from July 23-30, the enduring success of Shark Week has become something of a midsummer American holiday — marking that time of year when viewers are eager to cool off with some brisk air conditioning and the soothing yet muted sounds of water vibing from their speakers. In short, Shark Week is a welcome summer-feeding frenzy of TV comfort food.  

Thus, it is only fitting as the wait for Shark Week 2023 draws to a close that we at EDO decided to see how advertisers have worked to capitalize on this opportunity and reach a leaned-in summer audience. Through our investment-grade TV advertising database and proprietary data modeling, we analyzed every TV ad during last year’s Shark Week run to measure how effectively they drove consumers to engage with brands online.  

So here’s a look at which industries enjoyed the best performance, which brands were most successful, and what key takeaways brands can take with them in the back half of this year. 

Comfort food on TV and in viewers’ minds

Considering the fact that Shark Week viewers are evermore charmed by the circle of life under the sea (🎵under the sea! 🎵), it’s little surprise that EDO data from the 2022 Discovery Channel event shows that the Restaurants category scored some of the highest engagement numbers of the week.

Viewers of Restaurant category ads during 2022 Shark Week primetime programming were 70% more likely to engage online with the brands advertised than viewers of ads in this category on the average primetime network. By comparison, the average Shark Week advertiser enjoyed 49% more engagement than the average primetime program across broadcast and cable.


Entertainment brands feast with Shark Week ads

Last year, Shark Week viewers who saw ads for brands in the Movies & Streaming category were 69% more likely to engage with the brand than those who saw Movies & Streaming ads on the average primetime network. Last year’s advertisers included Bullet Train (Sony Pictures), DC League of Super-Pets (Warner Bros.), and Beast (Universal Pictures).


However, the most successful of these Shark Week ads was the 3-minute trailer for HBO’s House of the Dragon, which aired during Jackass Shark Week 2.0 and generated more than four times as much engagement as the next most engaging ad during Shark Week 2022 primetime programming.

As a result, we can only expect that entertainment brands will look to score big again this year, with the Aquaman star himself, Jason Momoa, serving as Shark Week’s official master of ceremonies. And with the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike disrupting scripted programming across TV and film, entertainment brands might find Shark Week’s reality programming a golden opportunity to engage with viewers.

Turn to EDO for Shark Week and more

Shark Week is an excellent opportunity for advertisers to connect with viewers who are ready to watch and engage with brands during the dog days of summer. Just look at the boost in viewer engagement that HBO Max (now Max) got by partnering with Shark Week to promote the then-new House of the Dragon. Or how ads for quick-service restaurants drew high viewer interest.

So, what’s the best creative messaging to connect with viewers? Exactly how much engagement can a given brand expect from their Shark Week advertising? These are just a few of the questions that can be answered (and more) with EDO’s industry-leading engagement data. 

Contact us today to uncover more of the key insights you need to effectively connect with viewers, generate real business results, and ensure your ads are swimming with the right fishes.


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