The marriage between FOX Sports and B.A.S.S. is going so well, the honeymoon has been extended.
When the deal was announced, all nine Bassmaster Elite events were to air three hours each weekend morning on FOX Sports 1, and three hours on Day 2 of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Classic presented by Huk were set to air on the main network channel.
FOX added an additional hour on Saturday, from 8-noon ET, and FS1 also added an hour for Championship Sunday in the same time slot. There was also additional air time for several of the seven Elite events completed this season.
“Thankfully, it’s been working really well,” said B.A.S.S. Chief Revenue Officer Tim Sullivan, who noted that while early in the marriage, strong bonds have been established. “They’re looking to expand their relationship with us, and that’s always a good sign. They’ve been really happy with our deliverables and our performance through the course of the season.”
Sullivan said the Classic will benefit from promotions on NASCAR and PBA telecasts, so the exposure for bass fishing’s world championship should be the highest ever.
“I think the expectation is the audience could be as high as half a million people,” he said. “In comparison to years’ past, that’s more than have been able to watch the Classic from a television standpoint, and the big difference will be it’s live.”
The presence of FOX and FS1 signage won’t be overwhelming, he added, as the network is taking a mostly hands-off approach, allowing B.A.S.S. to conduct the Classic as it always has.
“What they’ve told us is this is your crown jewel, we want to be sure that we support your effort,” Sullivan said. “We just have to give them a clean understanding of what the event is all about. And then, my sentiment tells me by August to September, as we’re thinking about what the schedule looks like for 2022, we’ll look at the opportunity to do more together and FOX provide input.”
One development is adding Classic questions to the FOX Bet Super 6. The app allows players to win cash prizes for correctly answering questions, like what will be the largest bass or the heaviest bag caught this week on Ray Roberts. Download the FOX Bet Super 6 and enter for a chance to win $1,000.
Classic takeoff order
As per tradition, 2020 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt will lead the field out for Thursday’s 6:15 a.m. CT launch of the 51st Classic. Defending Classic champion Hank Cherry will follow, and the remainder of the field’s positions were determined by blind draws. The order is reversed on Day 2, when the field is cut to the top 25 for Championship Sunday.