Major League Fishing (MLF) celebrates its 5-year anniversary this summer with news it has become the No. 1 fishing show in the nation.
According to Nielsen ratings, MLF's 2015 Summit Cup championship first-quarter 2016 airing on CBS attracted more than 1.1 million viewers to make it one of the all-time highest rated fishing shows on TV. Also in the first quarter, MLF was rated Outdoor Channel's overall No. 1 program.
Contributing to the show's top billing is the sheer volume of exposure; more than 1,700 hours of episodes have been logged since its beginning. For 2016, MLF has more than 500 hours in programming airing on four networks, including World Fishing Network and Fox Sports 2, along with CBS and Outdoor Channel.
Another factor for MLF's popularity is the show's unique format. It features a live-action style of broadcast during which all competitors know how well each is doing real time via in-boat iPads. Since every competitor has a cameraman and live microphone in the boat, viewers get to experience the strategies and emotions of them all.
"It seems like just yesterday that Gary Klein and Boyd Duckett called to discuss an idea they and some fellow anglers had for a new tournament format and fishing show," said MLF general manager Jim Wilburn. "We met with them, loved their live format and secret destination concept, brought our television expertise to the table and, as they say, the rest is history. Every episode literally puts the viewers right there in the boat with the pros."
The MLF format was designed to capture the elements of a professional sport, not typical fishing or outdoor programming. The inaugural competition was held on Texas' Lake Amistad and aired in 2012 on Outdoor Channel. Since then, MLF has produced 138 original hours of TV programming.
"It has been incredible to be a part of the meteoric rise of the league and benefit from this unique and exciting approach to bass fishing," said Jim Liberatore, president and CEO of Outdoor Sportsman Group Networks. "MLF is a lot more than just pulling fish out of the water and weighing them. Seemingly, MLF events are nail-biting competitions that go down to the final seconds almost every event."