August 11, 2014 2:02pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: Fake Fish Fuel Shark Week Kickoff
Sensationalized sharks are having quite a month. Just two weeks after Syfy set a ratings record with its Sharknado sequel (and a slew of other hammy shark-related telepics), Discovery's annual reminder of summer's speedy passing has arrived.
Shark Week returned to the cable network on Sunday night — and as it did last year, Discovery opened the seven days of fishy festivities with a faux documentary. Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine pulled in an average 3.8 million viewers at 9 p.m. The tale of an scarred, angry and entirely bogus Great White, it follows last year's similarly tongue-in-cheek Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives. (That spoof, Discovery's first for a Shark Week, drew in 4.8 million viewers with its 2013 premiere.)
Real sharks proved almost as big of a draw at 8 p.m. Air Jaws: Fins of Fury fetched 3.3 million viewers, helping the network average 3.6 million viewers over the course of the night. An average 2.3 rating in the targeted adults 25-54 also makes it the highest-rated kickoff in franchise history.
The introduction of faux documentaries into the Discovery catalogue has gotten a mixed reception. While the programs certainly drive ratings, they've also proven to be confusing for some viewers. (Mermaids: The Body Found caused a stir online when some of the 1.9 million viewers tuning in to its 2012 premiere thought they were seeing proof of mythical creatures, despite disclaimers that facts weren't being presented.)