OCEAN CITY – The popular locally-produced fishing show “Hooked on OC” will make its national network debut next week, but the town of Ocean City will not be riding along on its coat tails.
The producers of Hooked on OC, locals Scott Lennox and Dave Messick, this week reached an agreement with the nationally televised Sportsman Network to air 13 episodes of the popular fishing show featuring Ocean City over the next 26 weeks during a prime time program called the Friday Fish Fry. The program will be aired in the 10 p.m. time slot on Friday nights starting next week and will air again several times during the week on the Sportsman Network in different time slots.
The agreement will put the Hooked on OC show into 14 million households nationwide from coast to coast including roughly half a million households in the resort’s marketing target areas such as Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Ohio, for example. However, the town of Ocean City will not be coming along for the ride.
Last month, Lennox and Messick pitched the idea of the town of Ocean City coming on board as a title sponsor for the nationally televised program featuring everything about fishing in the resort, but the offer apparently fell on deaf ears. Lennox and Messick pitched the idea during a meeting with the town’s Tourism Commission, which said it would forward the proposal to the Mayor and Council, but the show’s producers heard nothing back from the town and moved in a different direction as the first air date rapidly approached.
“We never heard anything back from them,” said Lennox this week. “It’s unfortunate. We thought the timing was perfect and it seemed like a great opportunity for the town to get some high-profile publicity on a nationally televised network that reaches something like 14 million households.”
If the town had come on board as a title sponsor for the program, its commitment would have been around $100,000, which would have included several commercial spots throughout each episode as well as the name recognition.
“The town of Ocean City was our first and only choice for the title sponsor, but it doesn’t look like its going to happen,” said Lennox. “It’s disappointing because all we are hearing and reading lately is how the town is trying to get more money for tourism marketing and this was a way to get a lot of great exposure for a fairly small investment. This would have provided a lot of bang for the buck for Ocean City.”
Lennox and Messick have produced roughly 30 episodes of Hooked on OC, which air daily on local cable television. The shows feature everything about fishing in Ocean City from small inshore events to large premiere events such as the Tuna Tournament and the White Marlin Open. While the program is essentially about fishing in and around the resort area, it also includes segments about different things going on in Ocean City such as Sunfest and Springfest or Cruisin’ and Bike Week. The producers also planned to shoot opening and closing segments for the program at signature Ocean City locations such as the Boardwalk and Sunset Park.
Without Ocean City as a title sponsor, Lennox and Messick turned to other options and were able to secure Miller Lite as a major title sponsor with the help of Carey Distributing and Terry Laughlin. The producers are also working with big national interests such as Toyota and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, for example, to come on board, but there are opportunities for local businesses to be included. The local advertisers would have their commercial spots mixed in with the big national advertisers during the program.
In the beginning, Hooked on OC will air some of the roughly 30 episodes already produced on the Sportsman Network including 15-20 of the most popular segments. Lennox and Messick are reworking and re-editing the episodes to better fit in the network’s format.
For example, one of the first episodes to air nationally will be the segment featuring the Ocean City Marlin Club’s Kid’s Classic tournament.
“That’s going to be the first one to air,” said Lennox. “It’s one of our favorites because it features kids catching fish inshore and offshore including catching marlins. It was one of our most popular shows.”
The show will rely on already produced and aired programming in the beginning, but will feature new episodes shot and produced around the resort in the future. Hooked on OC has committed to 26 weeks and has about 30 episodes already in the can, but there is potential for expanding the commitment in the future and new episodes will be shot and produced throughout the summer and fall. The show will continue to air locally throughout the year.
“This is all pretty exciting,” said Lennox. “I work in a marina tackle store and Dave runs the skate park, but we’re getting a chance to air our local fishing show on a premiere national network.