NEW YORK - Colliding stunts on Discovery and The Weather Channel next week feel like another "Sharknado."
Discovery is holding its 26th annual Shark Week of programming at the same time The Weather Channel is airing Hurricane Week. The weather folks can't resist a joke about it, airing a promotional ad that depicts a giant shark flying away in a stiff wind that references both Shark Week and "Sharknado," the Syfy network movie that has become a campy classic this summer.
"If having a little fun with this very serious topic helps get a little more attention, we're all for it," said David Clark, Weather Channel president.
Shark Week is a mixture of fun and science, even including a shark talk show this summer. Discovery's embrace of the week's pop culture status was signaled with the Snuffy the Seal ad that has received more than 5.5 million views on YouTube and the Discovery website.
The ad shows a fake newscast telling a heartwarming story of a seal being returned to his natural habitat. But as the seal is being lowered into the water, a giant shark jumps up and snatches the animal in its jaws. The news crew looks horrified as an announcer says, "It's a bad week to be a seal."
The shark in The Weather Channel ad has something black in its mouth - could it be Snuffy? - before being blown away.
A true "Sharknado" collision for the networks would actually come in the spring, when The Weather Channel holds Tornado Week. But it's hard to argue with the weather calendar, and August is about when hurricane season begins in earnest.
The Weather Channel skipped Hurricane Week last year, but the interest in Superstorm Sandy brought it back. Along with boosting viewership during a normally quiet period and reminding people where they should tune when a storm is menacing a coast, the channel hopes to deliver valuable tips on hurricane preparedness, Clark said.
"Sharks as a danger is something that captures the imagination, but hurricanes are a very real danger that affects millions of people every year," Clark said.
The dual stunt weeks didn't seem to thrill the folks at Discovery all that much, perhaps because it's better to have a clear path with less competition.
"We haven't talked to them at all," said Michael Sorensen, senior director of programming at Discovery. "It's interesting that they're putting a stunt week up against ours, especially since ours has a long track record. So we'll see how that goes."
People at Discovery have certainly talked about how the film "Sharknado" fits into Shark Week and have booked the movie's star, Tara Reid, onto its late-night talk show, Sorensen said.
He said he could see the movie influencing future "Shark Week" programming, perhaps with a look at shark horror movies or examining whether there is any science behind the science fiction in the movie.
To a certain degree, though, "Sharknado" is terrific promotion for Shark Week.
"It shows people the curiosity and the fascination that people have about sharks that that kind of thing can be buzzed about," he said.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Syfy announced the start of a "Sharknado" merchandising program, selling shirts, bags, posters and accessories tied to the movie.