The recently completed Season 9 of Shark Tank was disappointing and uninspiring. There were a number of problems with Season 9, but I think each one of them can be fixed. This will lead to a more meaningful and successful Season 10.
Problem #1– The most obvious problem was the new time slot…..Sunday at 9pm and/or 10pm. Of course it’s always challenging when changing the day/time of any show, but late Sunday night. REALLY? The viewing audience was cut in half in this new time slot.
Shark Tank is a great family show with many young folks tuning in. Many families watch the show together. It needs to have an earlier starting time so families can watch before kids have to go to bed to get ready for school. Friday at 8pm or 9pm seemed to work well because Saturday is not a school day.
The competition on Friday is also not as fierce. On Sunday, the show was going up against top shows from HBO, Showtime, Sunday night football, etc.
Problem #2– I was disappointed with the quality of the entrepreneurs and the size of their businesses. There were just too many businesses with little or no actual revenue.
After each episode I recognize outstanding entrepreneurs with my Sharky Award. In Season Eight I gave 14 Sharky Awards for entrepreneurial excellence. In Season Nine, I gave just 7 Sharky Awards (or Best Deal Awards). Again, a 50% reduction.
It seems to me the producers are opting for TV entertainment over business quality and meaningful entrepreneurial content. Previous seasons had a great blend of both.
Problem #3– Season 9 had fewer Theme Shows than in previous seasons. These are episodes that focus on a particular topic or business type. For example, previous seasons featured episodes exclusively with veterans, young entrepreneurs, technology companies, etc. Those were great episodes! I could suggest some new themes…….women owned businesses, civil servant owned businesses, minority owned businesses, immigrant owned businesses, mobile phone app and accessory businesses, Senior Citizen businesses, entrepreneurs who failed with their first businesses, serial entrepreneur businesses, etc. There are many possibilities.
Problem #4– The Guest Sharks……… there were too many! I recognize there are regular Shark availability issues, egos, and contracts to consider, but PLEASE cut the number of Guest Sharks!
First let me say, I think Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, and Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary) need to be on EVERY episode. If any one of them is missing, the show lacks something. Mr. Wonderful missed a couple of episodes toward the end of Season 9 and it adversely impacted the show. He provides humor, insight, and structure. In a sense, he acts as a moderator and referee. Over the years, he has been transformed from a mean-spirited, curmudgeon into the “glue” that holds the show together.
As far as the Guest Sharks go, the best of all time was Chris Sacca, and he never appeared once in Season 9! He added so much to any technology discussion and had an entertaining “rivalry” with Mark. Please bring him back!
By far the worst guest Shark performance was given by Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic fame. With all due respect to his significant entrepreneurial accomplishments, he was nothing but a distraction on the first episode. For some inexplicable reason, he threw a glass of water in Mark Cuban’s face. Too much silly slapstick!
I liked guest Sharks Rohan Oza and A-ROD (Alex Rodriguez)…….they both offered meaningful advice to the entrepreneurs. Sara from Spanx is an inspirational entrepreneur, but she added very little when appearing on the show.
I think Bethenny Frankel is more accustomed to unscripted, unstructured reality shows where drama is critical. I love her products (especially the vodka!), but she created too much unnecessary drama.
Summary.…… I sincerely hope Shark Tank is renewed for a Tenth Season. It makes a great contribution to current and future entrepreneurs. With a few changes, Shark Tank can survive and thrive for a long time.