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Discovery debuts Meerkat embedding as Shark Week begins

Discovery's 28th annual Shark Week began last night, their extremely popular week of all-Shark programming across their linear and digital platforms. For the last several years the network has used this major week on their linear schedule to debut new digital experiences as well.

The network announced in partnership with Meerkat that they will be using the live streaming social platform's new embed technology to feature shark content across discovery.com. This year's Shark Week includes the following digital and social activations:

  • Viewers enjoying Shark Week on air will be able to dive even deeper with special Shark Week content through @SharkWeek on Meerkat and through Meerkat embeds at discovery.com/live.
  • “Finbassador” shark experts – from photographers to educators and conservationists – sharing the inside stories on what it’s like to be a part of Shark Week;
  • A live shark feeding from the National Aquarium in Baltimore; and
  • “Shark on the Street” Q&As, complete with viewer giveaways.

Found Remote interviewed Conal Byrne, Senior Vice President of Digital Media for Discovery Communications and Sima Sistani, the VP of Media at Meerkat about the partnership.

Found Remote: What are the social and digital plans for Shark Week this year?

Conal Byrne: Shark Week is Discovery’s biggest event and, heading into the 28th Shark Week, we challenged ourselves to come up with new ways for fans to experience the event not in waves as programs premiere but through meaningful, ongoing conversations throughout the week. Over the past few years, we’ve seen audiences organically celebrate Shark Week's programming elements and turn them into shared, live events – in person and through social media.

This summer, we knew we wanted to match our fans’ enthusiasm and passion by further complementing that viewing experience through more live content. As we started planning, though, we felt like a piece was missing, and that’s when we reached out to Meerkat to find a way to work together and offer our fans an even more engaging digital experience. With the new embeddable feature, we are able to cultivate an entirely new parallel conversation complementing Shark Week programming. We have a lot of exciting live events leading up to Shark Week and even more rolling out during – from shark feedings to behind-the-scenes Q&As with Shark Week experts – that provide fans with the opportunity to immerse themselves in “all things shark” in a way they never have been able to before.

FR: Why are you working with Meerkat?

CB: We’ve been leveraging live cams for several years now across our network brands, and the utility of Meerkat’s embeddable player is exactly what we need. Additionally, the speed at which they are moving is impressive, and the timing was almost serendipitous.

FR: Anything else worth mentioning?

CB:Our relationship with fans via live cams is multi-directional. We’re sharing real-time content with superfans, which will greatly enhance their Shark Week experience We’ll also be curating content for those Meerkat users who are engaging with one another via related hashtags and topics, who may not already be engaged with Discovery and Shark Week. In the end, we’re able to both deepen relationships with our current fans, while also reaching out and creating new ones.

Sima Sistani: On Meerkat, the broadcaster owns their stream. With that value in mind, it only made sense to make it seamless to reach your audience wherever they are. So not only can you live from Meerkat and distribute to Twitter and Facebook, but also the broadcaster's O&O platform.

It's incredibly exciting to have Discovery programming live content via Meerkat for Shark Week! They have a keen understanding of how this new live participation medium can move the needle with regard to driving awareness, tune-in, and fan engagement.

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Natan Edelsburg

I help run the Shorty Awards (http://shortyawards.com) and Muck Rack (http://muckrack.com). I also watch a lot of TV and write about it occasionally. http://linkd.in/nedelsburg

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