CELEBRATION, Fla. — When BASS announced it would add three Major tournaments in 2006, ESPN Outdoors senior coordinating producer Dan Bowen knew the stand-alone events with a $250,000-first-place prize each deserved the same level of heightened importance viewers have become accustom to at the CITGO Bassmaster Classic.
The second of three Majors — the Bassmaster American presented by Advance Auto Parts — will be aired on Sunday, July 30 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 with same-day coverage. A highlights show will air on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 10 a.m. ET.
For the first time, ESPN provided same-day coverage of a BASS event outside of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic at the Bassmaster Memorial in May from Fort Worth, Texas. The quick-turnaround was a welcome challenge for Bowen and his staff.
Logistics play a huge role in the production of a BASS tournament, Bowen said, and covering a lake is not the same and presents its own set of unique challenges. Lake Wylie in North Carolina is a 13,443-acre lake, 17 miles from Charlotte.
"We knew our biggest challenge [at Forth Worth] would be that we were at the mercy of getting material off the water," said Bowen, whose team must wade through hundreds of hours of tape to find the best catches — and the best storylines.
"You want to be patient enough to get a cool storyline but not too patient that the tape doesn't get to the truck in time to be cut together to make a package," he continued. "Sometimes, it's just in time."
Around 50 people are needed for the telecast, about twice the number used for standard ESPN coverage of a BASS tournament. That number includes editors, producers, directors, four on-air personalities and a team of cameramen, including one for each of the final six anglers.
Bowen made a change in the production package at the Memorial — more footage from the lake and less from the weigh-in.
"We wanted to go in a different direction with the weigh-in," he said. "People want to see how these professionals catch fish. They want to see the action. They want to learn how to catch more fish."
That change added more pressure to Bowen and his crew to have the show ready for a 7 p.m. start.
"Our viewers want on-the-water action and that's where we're focusing our attention," he said.
Additionally, Bassmaster.com will have complete coverage, a real-time leaderboard, live video of the weigh-ins and on-the-water live chats with anglers powered by Mobile ESPN.