Shark Week: A Brief History

This month marks 25 years of amazing footage, corny hosts, and fake blood for the Discovery Channel’s most-watched series

Aug 16, 2012
Outside Magazine
Bull shark.

Bull shark.    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Shark Week premieres with 10 programs, including Sharks: Predators or Prey? and Sharks of a Different Color. Ratings nearly double.
Viewers: Fewer than one million

The series’ first host, Jaws author Peter Benchley, speaks from locations where the film was shot.
Viewers: 1.1 million

Shark Week goes live, with a two-hour shark-diving special filmed in the Pacific’s Bikini Atoll.
Viewers: 1.3 million

To promote its first 3-D program, Discovery distributes six million pairs of glasses to viewers in the U.S. and Canada.
Viewers: 12.6 million

Discovery’s marketers create commercials comparing sharks to evil clowns and the Grim Reaper. Following criticism by execs, Discovery pulls the ads.
Viewers: 20.6 million

An intern is forced to dress as Chompie, Discovery’s shark mascot, for the entire week.
Viewers: 23.9 million

Discovery decorates the exterior of its Silver Spring, Maryland, headquarters with a giant shark head and fins.
Viewers: 27.4 million

A Discovery production team uses 300 bottles of chocolate syrup mixed with red food dye to produce fake blood for shark-attack re-creations.
Viewers: 27.1 million

The 25th year of Shark Week kicked off August 12. Look for an ode to the continuing influence of (yes) Jaws.

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