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Shark Week 2015 returns to science, breaks records

Dropping a bit of the hyperbole this year didn’t slow down Shark Week 2015. Nielsen ratings released Wednesday indicate that viewers were hooked on Discovery’s July 5-11 shark-fest, even as it returned to truer science and toned down the sensationalism. Not only was the annual event more popular than ever this year in terms of average viewers, it also hit new network highs in a few viewer demographics.

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According to Variety, Shark Week 2015 averaged 1.269 million viewers over the entire seven-day run, topping the event’s previous record of 1.201 million, set in 2013. Overall, this year’s leviathan chomp-down wasn’t able to edge out Shark Week 2013 to become the franchise’s most-watched week, coming in second in the key adult demographic, 18-49 with 2.503 million such viewers. (2013 hit 2.562 million in that demo.) Primetime viewing was also slightly down, reports Deadline. 2015 drew in an average of 2.48 million primetime viewers, compared to 2.56 million in 2014. Nonetheless, those who did tune in were clearly loyal, helping Shark Week 2015’s total-day average overtake the record set in 2013, according to Variety.

Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” estimates also show that this year’s event made a splash with a few different age groups in particular. Not only did 2015 set a new Shark Week record in all key demographics for females, it topped the important 18-49 demographic for all viewers. Compared to its competition Monday-Sunday this year, Shark Week beat out all broadcast and cable networks in the male 18-49 demo, plus all adults 18-34.

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Based on ratings, the shark-loving audience was most captivated by Super Predator (duh!) on Wednesday, July 8, and the pairing of Island of the Mega Shark and Monster Mako on Sunday, July 5. The shows drew audiences of 3.335 million, 3.281 million, and 3.265 million, respectively. Apparently, fans don’t mind a scientifically accurate Shark Week, as long as there are still plenty of massive, terrifying fish on hand.

Shark Week debuted in 1988, and since 2010, it has been history’s longest running cable TV programming event. If this year’s ratings are anything to go by, it just keeps getting better with age.