Beginning in January 2015, the two-hour MLF Cup events will air three times per week on Outdoor Channel, America’s Leader in Outdoor TV, including two weekend airings and one Tuesday show.
“Major League Fishing is breaking another mold. We will be the first television show to regularly air an action-based, two-hour fishing competition program. We are ecstatic that our broadcast partner, Outdoor Channel, is 100 percent behind this expansion,” Wilburn said. “We are expanding to a two-hour format based on viewer feedback. Our fans love it, and we believe this change will provide us with the opportunity to create better story lines and a more complete viewer experience into what happens during a Major League Fishing competition day.”
MLF has previously aired single-episode, two-hour off-network broadcasts for two of its championship events. Additionally, MLF’s web-based, pay-per-view broadcasts – Extended Cast – run close to two-and-a-half hours.
Wilburn said that fan feedback and internal research re-enforced Major League Fishing’s decision to expand its broadcasts to a longer-duration format. According to a recent survey conducted by Major League Fishing, 97 percent of respondents that had viewed both two-hour and one-hour MLF productions preferred the two-hour episodes.
Wilburn also said that household ratings for the 2014 shows convinced MLF officials that two-hour events are more popular than hour-long episodes. “The ratings for the General Tire Summit Cup increased every half-hour for the entire two-hour show and had a total increase of 36 percent from the first half-hour to the last,” Wilburn said. “The Shell Rotella Challenge increased 22 percent from the first until the last half-hour. This is tremendous.”
“We are extremely pleased with the continued growth of Major League Fishing and the unique way the TV series showcases unparalleled competition in the sport of bass fishing. The fans have spoken and they are hooked on MLF’s innovative format, along with the compelling and diverse personalities of the series’ all-star anglers,” said Jim Liberatore, President and CEO, Outdoor Channel. “The two-hour expansion aligns with Outdoor Channel’s ongoing strategy to provide viewers with original character- and competition-driven programming.”
Major League Fishing is an equally owned partnership between a group of competition anglers and Outdoor Channel. MLF angler representative Boyd Duckett said that televising a two-hour competition show has been a goal of the competing anglers from the beginning.
“Outdoor Channel has been a tremendous partner and has a solid vision for what Major League Fishing can be. When we first started talking about our goals, we set a two-hour show as a goal, because we feel that it will allow our production team to tell a great story,” Duckett said. “We like the show we’re putting out, and we know that more isn’t always better. In this case, though, we’re extremely confident that more is better, and we’re happy Outdoor Channel believes it, too.”
The league began filming in November 2011 and has aired five events. Each event produces three months of broadcasts. All broadcasts have been shown on Outdoor Channel. Additionally, three championships have been aired on network television, with one airing on NBC and two CBS.
The announcement of the two-hour broadcast is the latest in a series of expansion moves offered by Major League Fishing. During the past six months, Major League Fishing: announced:
- An expansion from 24 professional anglers to 48, with the new group of anglers to be competing in Major League Fishing Selects competition;
- That MLF Selects programs will be hour-long broadcasts and begin in January 2015.
- The MLF Selects broadcasts were offered beginning October 2014 as web-based, Extended Cast episodes, three months prior to Selects shows being aired on Outdoor Channel;
- That MLF Selects anglers have completed filming two competitive events, one in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the other in Benton, Arkansas.