There are certain cable shows that have become universal franchises. What that actually means — and which shows deserve the label — is of course subject to debate.
But not when it comes to Discovery Channel’s, “Deadliest Catch”.
So why does the show merit such status?
Well, for starters, it is entering its 11th season, and there just aren’t that many cable (or broadcast) shows that have lasted so long.
There’s also all the DVDs, computer games and merchandise galore: check
International distribution, airing in something over 200 countries: check
Multiple fan web sites: check
Emmy nominations and awards: check
Specials, Mini-Series and Spin-off titles: check
I think you get the idea.
Of course, these are all the accoutrements of a great show… not the show itself, which has attained iconic status for one really good reason: it’s entertaining!
There’s something primordial about “Deadliest Catch” as it pits “Man” against “Sea”, with the former trying to make a living from the bounty of the latter. This isn’t Hemingway’s, “The Old Man and the Sea”, trying to stave off hungry sharks from a giant marlin attached to the side of a boat. The water is too rough and too frigid – way too rough and frigid!
“Deadliest Catch” takes place in the ice cold Bering Sea at a time when the water is at its foulest (late fall and wintertime) and its most fertile (that is, Alaskan king crab and snow crab). Personally speaking, I won’t touch the stuff on a dinner plate, but there must be plenty of people who do. How else to explain why anyone in their right mind would venture forth in a fishing boat hauling in gruesome-looking crustaceans in freezing, gale-force winds.
Is this job dangerous?
How about leaning over a rocking boat hauling in gigantic crab pots with everything in motion: the sea, the sky, the pots, the boat and everyone (and everything) in it. It’s metal on metal with men sloshing around in knee deep ice water. It’s not for nothing that the U.S. Coast Guard is camped out in these crazy fishing grounds. They are regularly called upon to rescue these intrepid crab men.
And that’s what makes this show the “Deadliest Catch” and the reason why this series shows no signs of slowing down even after ten full seasons:
Extended DVR Viewing
Our ratings comparison above is based on live viewing only, but another way of quantifying viewer interest is the prevalence of DVR recording and playback, which is quite pronounced for “Deadliest Catch”. Across the sixteen episodes of Season Ten (2014), the average Live U.S. HH rating was 1.5. By the second day of DVR playback, the audience to “Deadliest Catch” doubled:
Local Cable Advertising Demand
Local cable advertisers have certainly “thrown a line out” to this show. Over the past two seasons (2013 & 2014) nearly 300 Viamedia clients across 49 markets (and 110 local cable zones) have aired 3,700+ (equivalized) 30-second spots. (Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module). Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Of particular note are the clients that invested in the “Deadliest Catch” (within the same markets) over the past two seasons. Collectively, they increased their spending 33% — a sure sign of continued commitment to this high profile show:
This is our third “men-in-danger” reality series blog – the other two being History’s “Ax Men” and Discovery Channel’s “Gold Rush”. Not surprisingly, the product categories most attracted to “Deadliest Catch” are similar to the other titles with automotive garnering the lion’s share – 47% (which includes the auto aftermarket):
A Show within a Show
In a way, “Deadliest Catch” is a ‘show within a show’. There are the fisherman risking their all for a pot of crabs, and then there are the Discovery cameramen filming the entire operation on a deck that is rocking & rolling side to side while violently pitching fore and aft. The camera also captures the camaraderie — and the tensions — of men confined in very close quarters above (and below) deck as they go about one of the most dangerous trades on this planet. It’s the sort of heightened drama that has kept fans of this show (and local cable advertisers) coming back for more year after year.
For more information on Viamedia, visit www.viamediatv.com.
– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia