ESPN acquires B.A.S.S., World's Largest Fishing Org.


Mar 11, 2001
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April 4, 2001

        ESPN, Inc. has acquired the business and assets of B.A.S.S., Inc., the largest fishing organization in the world with more than 600,000 members and a diversified array of businesses highlighted by BASSMASTER Magazine,  the BASSMASTER Tournament Trail and BASS Masters Classic, which are airing on ESPN2. The announcement was made jointly by ESPN President George Bodenheimer and Helen Sevier, B.A.S.S. President and Chief Executive Officer.


        Like ESPN, B.A.S.S. is a leader in a variety of businesses and media, including magazine publishing, event management, merchandising, television distribution and the Internet.  Among B.A.S.S.’s many initiatives are CastingKids, which encourages youth participation in fishing by offering prizes and scholarships.  B.A.S.S. also encourages environmental and conservation efforts.  Based in Montgomery, Ala., B.A.S.S. was established in 1967 and the company is currently affiliated with more than 2,800 chapters in 47 states and five foreign countries.

        “ESPN and B.A.S.S. are two great brands with compatible assets and a shared love of the fishing and outdoor genre,” said Bodenheimer. “Our goal is to benefit B.A.S.S.’s large and loyal following by using our combined expertise and multi-media platforms.  This acquisition, together with our expanding commitment to outdoor programming and the Great Outdoor Games, could serve as the foundation for the launch of a dedicated ESPN outdoors network.”

        Said Sevier, who will continue to oversee B.A.S.S., “This is very exciting for B.A.S.S., our membership and our sport.  Our relationship with ESPN began to flourish since last July’s announcement that ESPN2 would televise our events. We are thrilled to team with an organization such as ESPN that has extensive multi-media resources, enormous promotional power and a track record for growing properties.”

        ESPN has a long history with outdoor programming; The Fishin’ Hole joined ESPN in 1980 and is the network’s second-longest running program, after SportsCenter. Outdoor programming has been a weekend morning staple since the mid-1980s, and ESPN2, now seen in nearly 76 million homes, televises outdoor programming - ESPN Outdoors - every Saturday and Sunday morning, as well as on weekday afternoons.  The company launched the ESPN Great Outdoor Games last July, which were well received by spectators, competitors and viewers, and will return to Lake Placid, N.Y., July 12-15, airing on ESPN and ESPN2 July 26 - August 5.   ESPN Radio has aired a Saturday morning outdoors show since October 1998.

        The BASSMASTER Tournament Trail, the premier series among the thousands of B.A.S.S-sanctioned tournaments staged yearly, is featured on ESPN2. The 18-show series joined the ESPN2 lineup this year and culminates with the BASS Masters Classic, to be held in New Orleans August 2-4. In addition, later this year ESPN2 will also televise 13 half-hour programs from the World Championship Fishing circuit, which is sanctioned by  B.A.S.S and which combines fishing and boat racing.

B.A.S.S. is globally recognized as the leader in setting standards for quality and professionalism in fishing.  B.A.S.S.’s marquee series – the BASSMASTER Tournament Trail – features hundreds of competitors in 20 events, including 12 invitationals, six pro-ams, one “megabucks event,” and the season-ending BASS Masters Classic.  

The three-day BASS Masters Classic features 45 anglers competing for $400,000 and attracts more than 100,000 spectators.  It is held in conjunction with the Classic Outdoor Show, a highly popular consumer trade event.

World Championship Fishing conducts five B.A.S.S.-sanctioned events while five Divisional Amateur Championships lead to the Federation Championship.  In addition, more than 25,000 other local and regional tournaments are sanctioned by B.A.S.S.

BASSMASTER Magazine – published 11 times per year – is the largest bass fishing magazine in the world, with a circulation of 600,000.

B.A.S.S.’s nationwide grass-roots efforts include seminars – many focusing on “how to” topics and education – local competitions and a focus on youth as the sport’s next generation.

B.A.S.S. members’ average income is $60,000 and 88% own at least one boat.

More than 60 million Americans fish each year (approximately 25% of all Americans – more than golf and tennis combined), and more than 30 million are bass anglers.

Approximately 91% fish with their spouse or children and 93% practice “catch and release.”

The average B.A.S.S. member fishes more than 60 days per year.

The fishing industry generates $28 billion annually, according to the American Sport Fishing Association.

    ESPN, Inc., the Worldwide Leader in Sports, is a multimedia sports entertainment company encompassing domestic (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNEWS) and international television networks, ESPN Radio,, ESPN The Magazine, sports-themed dining and entertainment with ESPN Zones, interactive games and more.

Media Contacts:
Dave Nagle at ESPN at (860) 766-2000  
George McNeilly at B.A.S.S. at (334) 272-9530

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