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Question: With the first Major League Fishing event at Amistad in the books, a lot of positive things are being said about it and the format. What are your thoughts on MLF? Can it be the next FLW or will it fall in ranks with PAA (not knocking the PAA) as far as money and sponsors?
What? They had a tournament already?
Seriously, did you think any of the MLF’ers would come out and say “it sucked?"
IF, they can capture what a day out on the water under that format is REALLY like and convey that to the audience, it could be a great show. And the show’s the thing in the MLF world. If you think ESPN was all about making a TV show, you ain’t seen nothing yet, because that seems to be all the MLF’ers want – and that’s not a bad thing. IF they can put together a compelling show and get a bigger audience than the Outdoor Channel currently has, it could be a fantastic thing for the 24 anglers involved. If they can’t capture and convey a strong show that the general, non-fishing public can stand to watch, then it’s just another (yawn) fishing show. Personally, I hope they pull it off as it’s something that has never been done.
The MLF guys have stated their reasons for starting the MLF. They want to grow the sport with a new TV product. Airing anything on the Outdoor Channel will not get new people to watch fishing. OK, so maybe they start there. Where is the new catchy aspect to draw in new people? It is not there. MLF is just a body in fishing that is dividing up the current sponsor base. Prove me wrong.
I think the anglers look at it as a way to get a bunch of extra publicity. Why not? Be on TV for lots of time and not have to pay a giant entry fee. Any angler in the world would sign up for that. Almost any angler would.
It remains to be seen what the MLF will really do. Just don't let your kids type MFL into Google!
I don't' have any inside information, and I haven't seen the finished product, so it would be ridiculous for me to say that MLF (still can't get over the acronym) will be either an outright success or an abject failure. There's been lots of ink spilled about it so far, but it has revealed relatively little.
The thing that I think these anglers have going for them is that a 24 man field is much more fluid, accessible and easily managed than a 100 or 150 man field, and doesn't lose much appeal. In fact, a field entirely composed of stars may be what the public really craves. Sure, there's a certain poetry to the occasional Chad Griffin or Jeremy Starks winning an event as a Cinderella, but poetry doesn't draw in the masses. To the occasional fan (or not-yet-a-fan), all that really matters is KVD, Skeet, Gerald, maybe Denny and "that guy that screams whenever he catches a fish." Twenty four stars and superstars is all you really need -- that's why they don't have cameras on all 100 Elite pros on Day One. Hell, they don't even have cameras on all of the remaining competitors on Day Four.
What no one has been able to explain to me adequately is how this is going to expand the fan base. Bass fishing has a very loyal core constituency that will find The Bassmasters or FLW TV show regardless on when/where it's programmed -- put it on the Oprah Channel or LOGO at 2am on alternate Tuesdays and they'll still at least Tivo it. But Boyd Duckett told BassFan that their goal is to almost double that audience. The numbers he cited were 325,000 in the current core group with a goal of raising that to 600,000. Similarly, Gary Klein told BassFan that "(w)hat we want to do is get the non-fishing public engaged in a TV product." Both of those guys are pretty savvy, but I've yet to see the evidence that they're on that path. Tweaks like a real-time leaderboard, penalty box, no practice period, no limits and no pre-programmed GPS waypoints might appeal to those of us who are already obsessed with the sport, but they'll need to push the human interest side a little harder if they want to be more than just "another circuit." Maybe that's in the works -- we'll have to wait and see.