BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Brandon Cobb’s “Century Club” fishing performance on Texas’ Lake Fork lured a record number of viewers to the May 26 episode of The Bassmasters TV show on ESPN2.
The Bassmaster Elite Series angler caught daily five-bass limits in the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to win the $1 million bass tournament with 114 pounds. The South Carolina pro’s heroic catches, including an 11-pound, 1-ounce largemouth that won Cobb a new Toyota Tundra, drew almost 250,000 impressions and the highest ratings of the past five seasons, said Mike McKinnis, vice president of media content for JM Associates and producer of Bassmaster LIVE and The Bassmasters.
“It’s halftime for the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series season, and the new and expanded programming is paying off bigtime!” McKinnis said. “Thanks to our longtime partner, ESPN, and the fantastic air schedule, we’re reaching more viewers across the country. It doesn’t hurt to have had some of the biggest bags of bass caught on camera this year from places like Lake Fork and the St. Johns River in Palatka, Fla.”
Household viewership for the first six episodes is up 71 percent over last year, and ratings among males 25 to 54 years old nearly doubled, he noted.
In addition to the ratings growth, ESPN has increased the number of hours The Bassmasters airs on its channels, going from 30 hours on ESPN Classic last year to 54 this year on that network. Also new for 2019 is an expansion of programming to the Pursuit Channel, which is airing 130 hours of Bassmaster Elite Series programming this season. The fast-growing outdoor sports network reported average viewership for Bassmaster shows of 222,000 per weekend.
“Bassmaster LIVE” — the live-stream coverage of on-the-water tournament action that was introduced and refined by B.A.S.S. over the past four years — continues its double-digit growth in both average plays per Elite event and minutes viewed. Plays increased 46 percent over the same number of events in 2018, and minutes viewed rose by 14 percent.
“We know that avid bass fishing fans are tuning in to Bassmaster LIVE by the thousands, and they’re paying attention,” noted Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “When the cameras showed the lure Brandon Cobb was using to catch those giant bass on Lake Fork, online stores sold out of that bait in minutes. It’s been the same way with winning lures all season.”
The Bassmasters, now in its 35th season, is the only outdoor sports program airing on ESPN networks.