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Shark Week debuts with highest-rated night yet in 27 years; the 'Sharknado' effect?

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The popularity of "Sharknado" may have had a splash-over effect on Discovery Channel's Shark Week, which the channel said debuted with its highest-rated night ever in 27 years of telecasts.

More than 3.6 million prime-time viewers tuned in Sunday for a line-up that included "Air Jaws: Fins of Fury," according to Nielsen company figures Tuesday.

Viewers' appetites appear to have been whetted by SyFy's July airing of the campy "Sharknado 2: The Second One" — or maybe it's the other way around, Discovery Channel president and general manager Eileen Neill said.

Shark Week has been posting record numbers the last few years, said O'Neill, adding, "it's fair to say that the success of Shark Week may have inspired SyFy to get in on the shark frenzy, and happy to see the shark celebration getting bigger."

Shark Week enjoyed a social media bounce as well, with two of its Sunday shows making Nielsen's top 10 list of the most-tweeted about programs for the week of Aug. 4-10.

Live programming continued to prove a top summer TV attraction, with three episodes of "America's Got Talent" ranking among the most-watched shows, while country music was a draw with the CMA Music Festival

CBS averaged 5.8 million viewers for the week in prime time. NBC averaged 4.7 million, ABC had 4.3 million, Univision had 3.3 million, Fox had 2.3 million, Telemundo had 1.2 million and ION Television had 1.2 million.

Among cable networks, USA averaged 2 million viewers in prime time, followed by TNT with 1.9 million and Disney Channel with 1.8 million. Fox News Channel had 1.8 million and History 1.7 million.

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.5 million viewers. ABC's "World News" was second with 7 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6 million viewers.

For the week of Aug. 4-10, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday, 9 p.m.), NBC, 10.1 million; "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 9 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 8.2 million; "NCIS," CBS, 7.9 million; CMA Music Festival, ABC, 7.3 million; "Under the Dome," CBS, 6.8 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 6.5 million; "Big Brother" (Wednesday), CBS, 6.5 million; "Big Brother" (Thursday), CBS, 6.1 million; "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday, 8 p.m.), NBC, 6.1 million.

___

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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