Live Coverage Of Bass Fishing Reaches Record Audience
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When live, on-the-water coverage of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro debuted in 2015, producer Mike McKinnis predicted fans would be “blown away” by the video that would be streamed through their computers and mobile devices.
 
They were. Video plays of “Classic LIVE” programming during the Greenville Classic grew each day, totaling 312,622 after three days, for a total of 9.9 million minutes viewed.
 
But even McKinnis, the longtime producer of the award-winning The Bassmasters TV show on ESPN2, could not have predicted the boom in popularity of live-streamed fishing action a year later.
 
The 2016 version of “Classic LIVE,” streamed from Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Oklahoma, on Bassmaster.com, earned 416,381 video plays, an increase of 33 percent. Minutes viewed during the three-day event reached nearly 12 million, a 19 percent increase over 2015.
 
The “LIVE” momentum has carried over into the start of the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series, with video plays and minutes viewed more than doubling during the Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels March 17-20, compared to the season-opening Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by STARK Cultural Venues in Orange, Texas, a year ago.
 
“This is nothing short of amazing,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “Not only were the total minutes viewed in Florida this year for Saturday and Sunday up 100 percent over the first Elite last year, but the minutes viewed are up 145 percent over the average minutes from the six regular-season Elites in 2015 during which we ran ‘Bassmaster LIVE’ for three days.”
 
“Bassmaster LIVE” is made possible by an investment in new technology built into the same high definition cameras used for The Bassmasters on ESPN2 that enables them to stream on-the-water video through cell service to Bassmaster.com. As many as eight videographers are deployed with the leaders after the first round of fishing in each Elite event. Live streams typically run for six hours, beginning at about 7:30 a.m. each day.
 
“Having a year of ‘Bassmaster LIVE’ under our belts, we expected more fans to be watching in 2016,” McKinnis said, “but wow! Our fans really do want to consume the Bassmasters live, and we’re just getting started.”
 
The St. Johns event drew 119,096 video plays on Saturday (Day 3) and 166,319 on Sunday, increases of 116 percent and 122 percent, respectively, over the Sabine River streams from those days in 2015.
 
Part of the increase can be attributed to the incredible come-from-behind victory of legendary angler Rick Clunn, who bagged a five-bass limit weighing 31 pounds, 7 ounces on the third day to take the lead at the St. Johns, Akin noted.
 
“But that would have had an effect only on the final day, when a ‘Bassmaster LIVE’ camera was assigned to Clunn,” he said. “He wasn’t on anybody’s radar — or video — until the end of the weigh-in on the third day.”
 
Clunn, who chalked up his 15th victory March 20 at age 69, has won an incredible four Bassmaster Classic championships in his 42-year career as a professional bass fisherman. Fans can watch his historic feat when The Bassmasters TV program on the St. Johns Elite premieres Sunday, April 24, on ESPN2. (Check Bassmaster.com for program times.)
 
The 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic “Winner’s Circle” program premieres this Sunday, April 3, on ESPN2, while an additional five hours of original programming on the 2016 Classic will air on the ESPN Classic channel on Sunday, April 10, and Sunday, April 17.
 
In addition to the video and television coverage of Bassmaster Elite Series events, fans can follow the action on Bassmaster.com through the BASSTrakk live leaderboard, timely updates and photos from marshals and roving reporters on the water and live streamed weigh-ins each afternoon.