BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The highly anticipated return of the Bassmaster Elite Series season and Buddy Gross’s dramatic final-day comeback lured in approximately 2.8 million viewers, who followed live, on-the-water action from the DEWALT Bassmaster Elite at Lake Eufaula for four days on ESPN2.
“Thanks to our longtime partner, ESPN, we were able to air more than 19 hours of real-time coverage, reaching more viewers and creating fans across the country,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “Our Elite Series anglers reeled in big bags while also doing an incredible job taking the time to explain the sport to those who might be watching bass fishing for the first time.”
Between televised coverage on ESPN2 and the livestream on Bassmaster.com and ESPN3, fans watched more than 85 million minutes of tournament coverage.
It wasn’t difficult for everyone from enthusiastic fishing fans to complete novices to get drawn into the action at Lake Eufaula, which saw a new leader each day of the event and featured a bevy of impressive catches. On the Final Day, Gross surged from 10th place — more than 7 pounds behind leader Scott Canterbury — to take home his first Elite Series win and the $100,000 prize.
While the increased viewership is encouraging for the growth of sportfishing, it also reflects the tremendous growth in both interest and participation that fishing is enjoying so far this year.
States across the country have seen remarkable growth in fishing license sales as many seek to reconnect with their families and the outdoors. Iowa, Minnesota, Vermont and Louisiana all report more than 50% higher fishing license sales in 2020, according to their state conservation agencies. Considered a hotbed of recreational fishing, even Alabama has experienced a 37% jump in resident fishing license sales.
An hour-long episode of The Bassmasters television show featuring highlights and analysis from the Lake Eufaula tournament will air later this year on ESPN2, ESPN Classic and the Pursuit Channel. A complete 2020 tournament schedule can be found at Bassmaster.com/tv-schedule.