Shark Week – A Brief History

Each summer for over twenty years, the Discovery Channel features a week-long series of programming about our favorite sea-dwelling predator. Shark Week started as an experimental project for the budding network back in 1987 but it has since grown tremendously. Today it is one of the most popular TV events on any channel, attracting 29 million viewers in 2008.

The Discovery Channel was started in 1985 and it was initially a very modest endeavor. Working with very limited start-up capital, the network only had programming for twelve hours a day and featured a hodgepodge of shows including a Soviet news program.

Two years later, the channel was trying to think of ways to stimulate interest during the summer months, which was typically the slowest time of the year for any network. They chose the shark, and decided to feature seven days full of programs dedicated to documentaries that attempt to be both visually impressive and educational.

The series was successful from the beginning, and quickly developed a devoted following. While the sharks have always remained the focus, the channel began to add new features as popularity continued to soar. In 1994 they featured the first host for the event, Jaws author Peter Benchley. In recent years, many more celebrities have become involved in the show. These have included Heidi Klum, the hosts of Mythbusters and most recently Craig Ferguson of The Late Late Show who hosted the latest edition in 2010.

Ever since 1995, the series has attracted at least 20 million viewers each year. The combination of thrilling visuals, intriguing facts and fun entertainment make Shark Week an event you won't want to miss.

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