This year’s “Shark Week” will include lots of Meerkat live streams, which will be viewable right on Discovery.com once the action unfolds at the end of next week. The Discovery Channel has teamed up with Meerkat to add social live streaming to the cult TV event, and Meerkat is using the collaboration to introduce embeddable players that can be used to add streams to any website.
Discovery’s use of Meerkat has been a bit of a lucky accident, said the network’s digital media SVP Conal Byrne during an interview this week. Plans to add live streaming to this year’s “Shark Week” through traditional live webcasts were well under way when social live streaming apps like Meerkat burst onto the scene. “That’s what we love about the Internet. If you turn around, it’s all changed again,” said Byrne, adding that a service like Meerkat seemed like a great complement to the existing social media frenzy around “Shark Week.” “It was a bullseye for what we needed,” he said.
The Discovery Channel is still finalizing its Meerkat streaming lineup, but Byrne said that the network plans to host two to three live streams every day during the week, including a live shark feeding at the National Aquarium in Baltimore as well as Meerkats from shark experts and filmmakers to deliver a behind-the-scenes look at their work for the event. And with a little bit of luck, there will also be a live stream of the July 4 fireworks from San Francisco’s Pier 39 before the official “Shark Week” on Discovery Channel even starts.
All of these streams will be featured on a new section of the Discovery.com website dubbed DLive, but viewers will also be able to find the streams through social networks as well as through the Meerkat app itself. Byrne said that it doesn’t really matter to the network how viewers find the streams or where they watch them. In the end, all of it would help to raise awareness for Shark Week and ultimately also grow audiences for the week’s traditional TV programming.
Of course, some might argue that Meerkat could just as easily be used to steal audiences from TV. Piracy facilitated with the new generation of social live streaming services became a bit of a hot topic after the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Byrne however didn’t seem concerned about piracy. “That’s not what the platform is for,” he argued, adding that Discovery would rather take advantage of tools like Meerkat that shy away from them because of such concerns. “We would like to be a part of the conversation as opposed to watching it happen,” he said.