"If you can't beat 'em you might as well join 'em." This must have been what Nat Geo WILD was thinking when they recently announced that they will be airing a "SharkFest" the same week as the "other week" starts to quote their commercial. The question is, though, will "SharkFest" be able to compete?

Shark Week

Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" reaches back to the Summer of 1988 airing just a few shark related programs a day. The channel's ratings soared as a result, and Shark Week has been a staple of our summer ever since. Today, shark programs are aired twenty-four-seven for the entire week and feature a broad lineup of material.

The event has a huge following.

Last year alone, the Discovery Channel event reached up to the fourth most viewed TV program during primetime and the ratings continue to improve. Aside from the Megalodon debacle a few years ago, it is has been mostly fair sailing for the event, which is partially why it has grown to such popularity. "Mythbusters" Shark Week specials were also aired in years past. On top of all this, "Shark Week" continues to be sponsored and promoted by many products and shark foundations like Oceana and Lokai. On the Discovery Channel web site, there is a real-time countdown to the event - just a testament to the week's popularity.

SharkFest?

One of the commercials for SharkFest featured Ryan Lochte (Olympic medals and all) in a dinghy with sharks circling.

Having pulled in an Olympic swimmer (an infamous one at that) seems just a little bit similar to when Discovery advertised that Michael Phelps would be racing a Great White shark during "Shark Week." In addition to that, the "SharkFest" web page is not nearly as filled out as the "Shark Week" one, which is a potential problem.

Regardless, this is not the first year of "SharkFest," but is definitely the first year that the event is legitimately vying for popularity with "Shark Week" by attaching a celebrity (like I mentioned earlier, more infamous than famous - but we won't get into that) to the event. Despite all this, taking on "Shark Week" is still an enormous task.

Yet, there are some that have do believe Nat Geo WILD can take on Discovery. "It's the same friggin' sharks anyway," comedian Rory Scovel says. "Sharks cannot sign an exclusive contract with a network … we're pretty certain on that."

Well, sharks may not be able to sign an exclusive contract, but that doesn't mean their TV event has to get great ratings. Either way, "SharkFest" will be taking a bite (pun intended) out of "Shark Week" - it's just a matter of whether that bite will be from a reef shark or a Great White. Both events start Sunday, July 23.

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