Discovery Channel's Shark Week is generally considered the go-to source for all things shark-related. But since 2013, it has faced some stiff competition from National Geographic's SharkFest. The latter takes a much different approach to the type of programming it airs, and there are plenty of reasons to watch SharkFest over Shark Week. Both focus on majestic, maligned sea creatures, but SharkFest provides a more objective, all-encompassing approach to its subject.
The differences between these two shark-centric festivities come down to fact versus fiction. Shark Week gets a lot wrong about its subject, and tends to rely on the sensational rather than the scientific. While it could be argued that any show that brings greater awareness to the plight of sharks is a good thing, truth plays an important role here. Take a deep dive into the details of why SharkFest is better than Shark Week.
SharkFest Provides A Well-Rounded Look Into Sharks' LivesPhoto: Nat Geo Wild
If you want a less sensationalized view of sharks, SharkFest is the superior choice. SharkFest airs more shows that demonstrate how sharks fit into the overall aquatic ecosystem. Yes, they have programming featuring sharks as predators, but you also get a better idea of sharks' place in the delicate balance of ocean life, as well as some of the dangers they face.
SharkFest Portrays Sharks As UnderdogsPhoto: Nat Geo Wild
Most movies and television shows present sharks as aggressors, the big baddies of the world's oceans. But that portrayal isn't fair, and SharkFest aims to present sharks as underdogs.
"They're so much smarter and more strategic than people realize," explained Nat Geo vice president Geoff Daniels. "Frankly, sharks are the underdog." By allowing us to observe sharks in their natural environment, we don't just see how sharks attack. We see how they live, how they survive, and the unique challenges they face.
"It's about flipping the script," Daniels said.
SharkFest Doesn't Have Mashup Reality ShowsPhoto: Discovery Channel
In 2018, Shark Week incorporated a significant amount of reality TV into their normally shark-focused programming. The crossovers are interesting, to say the least. There's a Shark Week version of Naked and Afraid entitled Naked and Afraid of Sharks, as well as Shark Tank Meets Shark Week and Guy Fieri's Feeding Frenzy. So, if you're looking to escape the normal reality TV monotony, Shark Week may not be your best bet. SharkFest keeps the focus where it belongs: on the sharks.
SharkFest Doesn't Have Corporate Tie-InsVideo: YouTube
Because SharkFest is the lesser-known of the two shark programming blocks, it hasn't garnered the attention of corporations looking to do cross-promotions. Over the years, Shark Week has joined forces with a number of different companies to create branded products. From stuffed animals to clothing to candy, Shark Week is the overbearing, ever-present older sibling of SharkFest.