Perhaps nothing defines the summer television schedule better than popular outdoors programs like those from Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA). The company's long-running docudrama series Deadliest Catch is currently in full swing and its perennial fan favorite event Shark Week is less than two months away.
With expanding distribution platforms and an increasing global reach, Discovery's continued success in domestic markets is vital to the company's long-term growth. Luckily, this year's summer lineup for Discovery looks very strong.
A feeding frenzy:
In late May, Discovery released its Shark Week schedule for 2014, which is set to begin on August 10. Like it did last year, the company will air all-new shows during prime-time followed by a live late-night talk show called Shark After Dark, which will once again feature a plethora of shark experts and celebrity guests.
The idea of supplementing popular prime-time broadcasts with ancillary follow-up talk shows is not a novel approach. However, it is an effective strategy that many companies in media currently use.
AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) has found much success by bundling its hit shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead with live follow-up talk shows. Talking Dead and Talking Bad have both been received well because they have retained significant portions of their main drama series' large audiences. In this way, AMC Networks has found a way to capitalize on the growing popularity of its most popular content.
In much of the same way, Discovery hopes to capture its growing Shark Week audience for a bit longer in the late hours. And growing it is! The now almost three-decade long event has been building success throughout the years. In fact, last year marked the most successful showing for Shark Week ever.
Lat year, the event drew in a record number of viewers in the key 18-49 demographic. The success of Shark Week propelled Discovery to the No. 1 network spot among male viewers for the week.
Part of the growing fascination with Shark Week has been Discovery's great advertising campaigns. Last year's commercial that featured Snuffy the Seal was a massive hit among fans and Discovery has followed it up with another funny one for 2014.
Discovery is also busy promoting Shark Week, as well as many of its other popular shows including Deadliest Catch, through social media. It is near impossible to watch any live show on Discovery's namesake channel without reading Twitter tweets or Facebook messages from fans scrolling across the bottom of the television screen.
Discovery currently has 25 million fans on Facebook; this is an impressive number considering that the closest rival network National Geographic has only about half that number.
Success in domestic markets translates into more success abroad as well. Discovery has been busy making acquisitions over the past few years to widen its geographic footprint. The company recently acquired SBS Nordic, which includes 12 television networks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.
As more markets become available to Discovery through acquisitions like that of SBS Nordic the company will have more room to grow its brand. This also means that popular programs like Deadliest Catch and the myriad of Shark Week offerings will have larger audiences going forward.
Discovery is in an enviable position in media right now. The company has an immensely strong brand and very few direct competitors. This translates into powerful ratings among key demographics.
Management at Discovery is taking advantage of this strength by continuing to serve up new and compelling content that appeals to its target audiences. With the Shark Week feeding frenzy just around the corner, investors who look to benefit from a surge in summer-themed television have few better options right now than Discovery Communications.