B.A.S.S. will soon begin celebrating its 50th year of existence, with all kinds of content looking back at who and what brought us to where we are as an organization. Daily Limit will help dive into that, but for now we’re going to focus on the big doings of this past year.
Our CEO, Bruce Akin, sends out a letter at year’s start, somewhat of a state of B.A.S.S. address. The top item on his list was the new majority ownership by Anderson Media. Chase Anderson has promised “seamless continuity for B.A.S.S. and those connected with it.” Read more about it here.
Next on Akin’s agenda was noting some firsts with bass fishing’s premier event, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. It was the first time Classic weigh-ins were in a Major League Baseball stadium, the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park. The Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field, which hosted the 2000 Classic, is among the other history making Classic venues.
Other firsts were the largest Bassmaster Classic Expo, with 236 exhibitors filling 146,000 square feet and posting record sales. On Lake Conroe, 25-year-old Jordan Lee became the first former Bassmaster College champion to win a Classic, and his comeback from 15th place, 13-pounds, 14-ounces back, ranks first all-time.
Tournament director Trip Weldon gave the 2017 Elite Series the title of “Young Guns and Veterans,” as a mix of both claimed the nine $100,000 first-place prizes. With the fifth consecutive season topping 100,000 in attendance, the Elites have now surpassed 1.1 million fans attending events in 12 seasons.
Online, fans responded in record numbers, both in the number of visitors and page views, and our new video page was well-received. All that helped all Bassmaster’s Social Media platforms experience growth.
Bassmaster LIVE, which was simulcast on WatchESPN, had a large increase in viewers and minutes viewed. JM Outdoors produced 222 hours of LIVE, along with 38 hours of Bassmaster tournament programming as well as a variety of shows that aired on ABC, NBC Sports, ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel.
Akin was pleased to announce Thom Abraham filled a gap with Bassmaster Radio, giving B.A.S.S. coverage on every “channel” of media.
The year also marked a change in the Bass Pro Shops Opens series, which switches formats from three events in each of three divisions to eight Opens split into two divisions and capped with an end-of-year championship.
Also impressive in 2017 were impressions from various media outlets, which the Communications Department monitors – B.A.S.S. topped more than 2 billion for the third straight year.
Expect Bassmaster Magazine to begin its special anniversary content with a bang, as staff has been planning how best to commemorate Ray Scott’s brainchild, which began with his membership drive 50 years ago this month. The magazine also has undergone a redesign with a fresh look.
Akin offered much more on the year, but he closed with a resonating message:
“None of us knows what the future holds for our industry or our sport, but we remain confident in the power of the B.A.S.S. brand, the quality of our content and the talent and dedication of all our coworkers.”