- ABC/Michael Desmond
“Shark Tank” has found itself in choppy waters with ratings.
The business-deal reality show returned for its eighth season on September 23 and it’s averaging 5 million viewers, 15% less than last season, according to Nielsen ratings.
Things gets worse when you look at how it’s doing among adults under the age of 50, the demographic advertisers want most. Currently, it’s averaging a 1.1 rating. That’s a huge 23% less than last season.
What could be causing “Shark Tank’s” ratings decline?
Star Robert Herjavec thinks there’s a level of overexposure at play.
“After eight seasons, the challenge for us is the show’s always on the air now,” he recently told Business Insider while promoting his new project, “Small Business Revolution.” “And so it’s hard to have a new premiere when CNBC is playing it 88 times a day, 24 hours every single day. And so I think what we find is that the ratings tend to open a little soft and then build throughout the season.”
There are signs that fans are realizing new episodes are airing on ABC. The second week saw a tiny bump in the total audience, but stayed flat among the 18- to 49-year-old crowd.
“We’re trying all kinds of things,” Herjavec said. “We had six sharks this year, which is impossible to get a word in. We changed seats sometimes. I actually sat next to Mark and Kevin for a while. But it’s really the pitchers. It’s the ingenuity of the businesses. After eight seasons, I’m seeing businesses that are more exciting than ever before.”
What else could the show do to bring back viewers? Business Insider asked a few more of the hosts during a recent “Shark Tank” event at New York City’s Paley Center for Media.
- ABC/Michael Desmond
Original female shark and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran says the show has moved time slots so many times that it finds its audience and then loses them again after moving to another time slot. Over the years, “Shark Tank” has aired primarily on Friday nights at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. But there have been new episodes that have aired on different days.
“They didn’t know when we were on,” Corcoran told Business Insider. “So [the show is] getting the confidence of the network to let it grow in its spot, let it stay still for just a little bit.”
Apparel entrepreneur Daymond John feels the answer lies in adapting to new types of social media.
“It’s always a challenge to bring live viewers over,” John told us. “Ratings fluctuate and we do have a great amount who DVR it, so we do have a lot of people who come back to it. But Mark Cuban said to us five years ago that we should tweet live as the show goes on. And we were the first cast to tweet live. But as you know, when the show first started there wasn’t anything like Snapchat or InstaStory, so we need to constantly evolve. We’re always racking our brains on how to increase making this a better experience. It’s the same with operating my business. We have to learn about the best ways to convert social media and use them together. It’s a constant learning experience.”
Silicon Valley billionaire Chris Sacca, who has signed on to appear on more episodes of “Shark Tank’s” eighth season, didn’t even have a television until he first joined the show last season. That combined with his tech background, it’s easy to understand why Sacca has an idea that goes a step beyond social media into interactivity with the show.
“I think this industry has to be very aware of where its audience is and how interactive its audience wants its shows to be,” he told Business Insider. “I think some of the shows that have big audiences have shown some interactive way for the audience to participate. There’s something inherently live about it. It feels like a shared experience.”