When the longest running cable television programming event in history, Shark Week, premiered on August 4th this year, it was met with mixed reviews. News articles announced that Discovery Channel scored the highest viewership in its 26-year history, while others bitterly criticized the network’s ethical decisions surrounding programing choices.
While many formal news stories promoted the programming choices during Shark Week, we were interested in how viewers were expressing opinions and spreading the word throughout their social networks.
Using our social media analytics platform, ForSight™, we identified more than 1.6 million tweets about Shark Week from August 3 – 10 and analyzed viewer’s opinion about the weeklong series of shark documentaries. We found that a majority of viewers talking about Shark Week on Twitter discussed anticipation for the upcoming shows.
The day before the premiere, 92% of social buzz on Twitter was focused on excitement about the upcoming shark programming. In fact, 88% of viewers expressed intention of watching the shows, while 4% of viewers actually mentioned that they were catching up on the previous years programming in preparation for the upcoming premiere.
On the day of the premiere, negative opinion accounted for 25% of the conversation. A majority of this negative discussion (12% on the night Shark Week premiered) stemmed from users reaction to Discovery’s decision to air a fictitious documentary style film, Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. Some users stated that it strayed from Shark Week’s true intention of raising awareness and respect for sharks, while others stated that they would be boycotting the remainder of shows for the week.
Despite negative criticism that Shark Week has received, positive opinion continued to dominate discussions as “lifecasting” proved to be a prominent topic of discussion on Twitter. Users frequently Tweeted that the programming became an integral part of their routine throughout the week. Some users even noted that they became so enamored with the shows that they did not move from from in front of their televisions.
Shark week has me glued to the couch
— Anna Hubbard (@annamackhubbard) August 9, 2013
Although, viewers were opposed to Discovery’s choice to air a fictitious documentary, they still continued to watch and enjoy content for the remainder of the week. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the social media conversation surrounding Shark Week to see if it has an impact on future Discovery Channel viewership.
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