Shark Tank has not changed much over its nine seasons. But on the premiere of Season 8 in the fall of 2016, the show engaged in a bit of an experiment. Instead of featuring five sharks, it added another chair, so all six of the investors could hold court at the same time.
It was a first; normally, the show features a rotation of the regular sharks as well as some guest personalities. But this time, there was Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Mark Cuban, Kevin O'Leary, Robert Herjavec, and Lori Greiner all listening to the innovations made by companies like Fizzics, a startup that adds foam to canned beer.
That pitch ended with a sizeable investment from Greiner and Cuban and featured some jovial back and forth between the panelists, perhaps aided by the samples provided by the entrepreneurs. They each sipped some regular brew as well as some that had been improved through the Fizzics machine, which claims to mimic the taste of pub-style tap beer.
So, what was the reasoning behind that six-shark experiment? According to producer Clay Newbill's September 2016 interview with Observer, it was just one manifestation of the show's ongoing attempt to keep things fresh and different every year.
"We consider, do we want to shoot in front of a live audience? Do we want to do a live show? Do we want to take it on the road? Do we want to bring in kids and put them on the panel as mini sharks? Do we want to use interactive elements in the show so the audience can play along?"But they always come back to the realization that the show works fine just as it is, according to Newbill, which explains why the basic format has stayed consistent for all these years.
By the way, according to Observer, Cuban expressed his distaste for the "kids as sharks" idea. Ironically, that article was printed about six months before another entrepreneur pitch show, The Toy Box, debuted on ABC. On that program, prospective toy makers pitch their ideas to a panel of kids.
When the six-sharks-on-the-panel episode first aired, Philip Michaels joked on his recap for Previously that having all the sharks in the same room at the same time was a risky move. What if disaster struck, or a nefarious competitor wanted to dethrone the sharks from their leather chairs (which became white loungers in Season 9)?
Regardless of whether producers seemed to like the six-shark idea, it seemed to work on screen. In the episodes the following year, guest sharks -- there were no fewer than five who each appeared in multiple installments -- seemed to have a greater role. Since Shark Tank has been renewed for Season 10 according to an official show tweet, fans can wonder if the roster will remain the same and whether they will again be treated to the fun display of all six sharks competing to invest in the next big thing.
The Season 9 finale of Shark Tank airs Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.