City Doubles Down On WMO Broadcast Sponsorship

OCEAN CITY — Resort tourism officials this week signed off on a proposal for the town of Ocean City to officially sponsor the live broadcast of the White Marlin Open on two days this summer.

During Monday’s Tourism Commission meeting, Fish in OC promoter Scott Lenox presented an opportunity for the town of Ocean City to sponsor as many as two days of the live broadcast of the White Marlin Open (WMO) in August. In a new marketing initiative added last year, Fish in OC offered private businesses and even government entities the opportunity to be the official sponsor of the daily live broadcast with a half-hour opening segment each day featuring the lead sponsor along with the sponsor’s logo on screen throughout the hours-long live telecast.

Last year, the town of Ocean City bought into the concept and sponsored the live WMO broadcast on opening day on Monday, typically the busiest day at the tournament. Because of the growing relationship with the town of Ocean City and its tourism department, Fish in OC offered the one-day sponsorship for $3,000, or less than the $5,000 charged to private sector businesses.

On Monday, Lenox brought the proposal back to the tourism commission with an expanded format that could allow for two sponsors on each day of the live WMO telecast. For the same $3,000 the town committed to the marketing initiative last year, it could add a second single-day sponsorship at the same price, doubling its exposure during one of Ocean City’s signature events.

Lenox said he was offering the sponsorship opportunity to private interests for $5,000. However, Ocean City could invest $6,000, or $3,000 for each day and double its exposure. Tourism commission members ultimately doubled down and agreed to sponsor two days of the WMO live telecast for $6,000. Again, because of the town’s unique relationship with Fish in OC, the tourism commission was offered the opportunity first to pick which two days it wanted to sponsor and chose Monday and Friday, historically the two most popular days of the tournament.

Lenox explained Fish in OC began the live broadcast of the WMO a few years back when the tournament’s website handled by a third-party provider crashed early in the week. In that first year, Fish in OC’s hastily prepared live broadcast drew around 70,000 viewers in just three days.

In subsequent years, Fish in OC’s live broadcast of the WMO has gone up exponentially and is viewed nationally and around the world. Viewership rose from around 220,000 in 2017 to 309,000 last year. Lenox was quick to point out each point of contact counts as a single viewer and does not take into account maybe hundreds watching the broadcast at any given venue.

“All of those restaurants and bars that are showing the broadcast on their TVs count as just one IP,” he said, illustrating how that 309,000 figure was likely the low-ball number. “At places like the Marlin Club, Harborside or Sunset Grille, there are often hundreds of people watching the telecast.”

Councilman John Gehrig praised the idea of co-sponsoring two days of the live WMO telecast and the potential reach of the marketing concept. He said the WMO was the kind of world-class event the town needed to retain and attract, a recurrent theme for the councilman at other meetings throughout the week.

“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “It’s a world championship event. Sometimes we don’t realize that, or take it for granted, but this is a major worldwide event and this sponsorship opportunity gives us a ton of exposure.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.