Ike: Expanding our fan base, part 1

In a previous series of columns I detailed what I wanted to see our sport become. I stand by everything I said in those columns. That’s the goal. The thing is, though, none of that will be possible unless we’re successful at expanding our fan base.

All the real money in any sport comes from advertisers. (I know some of you are thinking about ticket sales. But that’s a small part of overall revenue.) The big TV contracts for team sports are a direct result of viewers which give the TV stations high advertising rates. It’s all about the numbers.   

Years ago our fan base was small. For the most part the only people who knew what was going on were the men and women at the tournaments. If you weren’t there you had to know someone who was or wait for Bassmaster magazine to get a recap of the action.

Then, somewhere along the way, things started to change.

First, it was television. You could (sometimes) watch a sports channel and see a little bit of something. In the day that was great. Besides, it was all that was available.

Then, along comes the Internet. That gave us much faster information. At first it was just text. Then it was text and pictures. Finally, it was text, pictures and video. In a very short period of time it became the primary means of getting information about tournaments. I lived through all of that. It was awesome.

All of that pales, however, when we look at what the current ownership and management at B.A.S.S. — along with GoPro — is putting together. It’s almost unbelievable. There’s a ton of video available now, and it’s high-quality. You can watch interviews with the anglers, how-to clips and professional analysis with the click of your mouse.

It’s getting better, too. We can now watch some stuff in real time, as it’s actually happening. Just a few years ago that was unthinkable.

I can only imagine what things will look like in the future. As technology gets better I can envision a day when we will be able to select any angler on the water from a menu of some sort and watch him all day as the tournament develops.

Something else I’ll compliment B.A.S.S. for doing is expanding the high school and college programs. I’m not talking about the competitors. Obviously, they’re important. But, just as important, you have to think that every high school and college kid who’s out there fishing has family, relatives and friends that want to know how he or she is doing. That’s huge.

I’m also a supporter of boats following us around while were fishing. Not everyone agrees with me about that but I’m sticking to my guns. It allows fans and fellow anglers to see what’s really going on. That’s a good thing.

Finally, I also like the fact that the fans can meet and talk with us after we come off the water. I’ll admit that sometimes I’d rather take a nap, get something to eat or be alone with my thoughts. But you have to remember that without the fans we have nothing. I hope we always allow autographs and selfies.  

Next week we’ll get back on some how-to stuff. If you have questions you’d like answered, post them in the comments section.

P.S.: I haven’t forgotten about B.A.S.S. Nation and their role in developing a bigger fan base. I want to devote a full column to them.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.