‘Phelps vs Shark’ Is Now Discovery’s Highest-Rated Shark Week Show Ever

CGI-heavy swim meet earns TV ratings gold

Phelps Vs Shark
Discovery's 'Phelps Vs Shark'

The shark may have been fake, but these Nielsen numbers certainly are not.

Including 72 hours of catch-up viewing, Sunday’s “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White” scored a 3.0 rating in Discovery’s key 25-54 demographic — that’s the best ever for any Shark Week telecast.

The special, which saw Olympian Michael Phelps race a computer-generated great white shark, also set records among women of that age-range and the slightly younger version, females 18-49.

All told, “Phelps vs. Shark” hauled in more than 5 million total viewers, on average. Of that sum, 2.7 million came from Discovery’s main ad-sales demo.

In addition to those new Shark Week highs, “Great Gold vs. Great White” led Discovery to finish No. 1 across basic cable’s primetime. It even topped its broadcast competition among adults 25-54, 18-34 and 18-49 — the last of those represents over-the-air TV’s key demographic. Chum(ps).

In other words, the much-hyped Phelps stunt was a big hit — but was it quality programming? Discovery sure thought so, though Twitter didn’t quite agree with the popular cable channel’s assessment of things.