LOS ANGELES -- 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.
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.
Social media bounce
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.
USA top cable network
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.
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.
The Top 10
(viewership in millions)
1. "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday, 9 p.m.) (NBC), 10.1
2. "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday) (NBC), 9
3. "60 Minutes" (CBS), 8.2
4. "NCIS" (CBS), 7.9
5. CMA Music Festival (ABC), 7.3
6. "Under the Dome" (CBS), 6.8
7. "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS), 6.5
8. "Big Brother" (Wednesday) (CBS), 6.5
9. "Big Brother" (Thursday) (CBS), 6.1
10. "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday, 8 p.m.) (NBC), 6.1