RE: Balog on MLF changes – To a point I think you are right. They were 100 percent about expanding the audience on new TV networks with a highlight reel-style tournament with almost zero down time between catches. This, teamed up with a live scoreboard, would give people the illusion of watching their traditional stick-and-ball sports and give it a more familiar sports format.
There were two big problems that they ran into that I’m not entirely sure that they were prepared for (although if they didn’t see it coming they clearly weren’t looking very hard). The first was that the anglers figured out the game way too quickly ... and everyone figured it out. All they had to do was find the schools of smaller, and frankly more willing to bite fish, stay on them and you would do very well. You would see anglers go through the same area three or four times per day before moving to a new area because these lakes are absolutely loaded with bass, and the majority of the bass population are smaller bass.
Secondly, the vast majority of their audience is still "bass nerds" like us who were used to the traditional five-fish formats. Even though they claimed to have greatly expanded their audience to non-fishing people, I would bet that more than 90-95 percent of their live audience were people who already watch fishing shows and tournament action. Almost all of the anglers made their names by catching five big fish and being able to adapt and find big fish … there was almost none of that here, which made the product get stale very quickly (at least for me). I think that because of this reaction by the overwhelming majority of their fans, they were quick to adjust their format. In pretty much any business, especially when they have put so much moneyinto the product, you are going to listen pretty heavily to the majority of your audience, which in this case was looking for a change. Honestly, I don’t mind that they did it because I think that this change will help them retain more of their initial bass nerd audience. I couldn’t even watch the second Table Rock event because I got so bored during the first one.
One thing that I noticed was that early on in the season they listed the average fish weight on the live ScoreTracker … that quickly vanished after they began to catch a ton of flack for all of the little fish. It is also gone from their Cup events that aired last year as well as the couple episodes that aired this year.
I’ll still watch the BPT events … but probably not quite as much as I did last year where I was locked in for the first four events every day. Love the column!