Shark Week was originally developed to raise awareness and respect for sharks. Shark Week was originally developed to raise awareness and respect for sharks. Shark Week was originally developed to raise awareness and respect for sharks. (Photo: Stefan Pircher / Shutterstock)

Meerkat offers behind-the-scenes access to Shark Week

Live-streaming app gives viewers up close and personal view of the annual event.

In the animal kingdom, pitting a meerkat against a shark seems like a cruel joke. But in the world of reality TV, it's anything but.

Meerkat, an app that allows users to broadcast live video to their social media followers, is teaming up with the Discovery Channel to broadcast special behind-the-scenes footage for Shark Week. The popular weeklong programming block premiered back in 1988 and has grown by leaps and bounds in the decades since. Now broadcast in more than 72 countries, it is the longest-running cable TV event in history.

"Shark Week is such an amazing event," said Ben Rubin, the young Israeli wunderkind behind Meerkat who made waves when he introduced the app at this year's South by Southwest festival in Austin. "We thought it would be cool to show the way we can support creators and let them embed live-streaming videos."

Meerkat is using the event as a way to showcase its new embeddable player, which will be broadcasting live views of shark cams all week. What's more, Discovery will use the Meerkat player to host live chats with aquatic experts, a series of viewing parties with an official Shark Week comedian, as well as broadcasting shark feedings from the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

“The infatuation with sharks has grown exponentially over the years, and with it, so have the many myths,” said Holly Bourbon, curator of fishes at the National Aquarium. “Shark Week is the perfect opportunity for us to debunk some of those myths and shed light on the beauty and truth behind these amazing animals.”

With such shows as "Alien Sharks" and "Shark After Dark" providing Discovery with some of their best ratings of the year, it's no wonder the network wanted a way to – ahem – dive in for more. "It was a bull's eye for what we needed,” said Discovery's Conal Byrne. "We would like to be a part of the conversation as opposed to watching it happen."

https://youtu.be/i1e7bQhdbic


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