Welcome 2021. Good riddance 2020, sort of.
It was terrible year, yet it was terrific for B.A.S.S.
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has sadly taken almost 2 million lives and disrupted almost everyone on Earth, yet the year saw B.A.S.S. hold a full and succesful season then sign a historic network television contract.
A chat with sage Bassmaster TV host Tommy Sanders centered on Charles Dickens’ famed opening from A Tale of Two Cities — “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” — and he offered the following take.
“It was the season of darkness for sports. The NCAA Tournament was canceled the weekend after the Bassmaster Classic and, one by one, most of the major sports in the country suspended operations. It was the season of light for fishing. Quickly Americans took to the water, discovering the most effective and pleasurable version of social distancing around.
“It was the worst of times for sports on TV. Suddenly, no games as pro and college baseball, basketball and football scratched their heads and tried to formulate a workaround for the new health concerns. It was the best of times for fishing on TV. ESPN stepped up to fill the sports void with live Bassmaster Elite Series programming.”
Bassmaster, which scrambled to reschedule and miraculously held all its events, had almost 100 hours of LIVE air on ESPN2 with an audience/reach of more than 20 million. That helped B.A.S.S. land a historic TV deal with FOX Sports.
“We changed our sport forever,” Mike McKinnis, executive producer of Bassmaster TV and VP of digital media at B.A.S.S., said of the landmark deal. “We were getting the attention of everybody, new fans, sponsors and networks were paying attention.”
The B.A.S.S. contract with FOX runs four years and should elevate the sport.
“It’s simple. It’s straightforward. It’s consistent,” McKinnis said. “Bass fishing is taking another really giant, giant step here, with LIVE becoming the norm for linear television.”
Bassmaster LIVE will air Saturday and Sunday mornings on FOX Sports 1 from 8-11 a.m. ET for all nine Elite tournaments, and the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will air on the main FOX channel on Day 2 and FS1 for Championship Sunday.
Bassmaster LIVE, which first aired at the 2015 Classic, puts cameramen on competitors’ boats, allowing viewers to see all the catches and misses and get inside the pros’ techniques and thought processes. In 2021, there will be 234 hours of LIVE and 60 exclusively on FOX networks, which draw 100 million viewers each weekend.