Is a huge media package right around the corner?
I read Sam George’s poetry last night and was so excited to write a rebuttal until this morning when I read each and every one of your comments and laughed until my sides hurt. There is nothing else to say on the matter except to wonder who BeachGrit’s “resident critic” is. A great and grand mystery that only Sam George truly knows. Sam? Will you ever reveal or will you take it to your grave?
Speaking of, what sort of “grave” do you think Sam George will choose when that time comes? Something rococo or understated? A plot in a historically important cemetery, like next to Jim Morrison in Paris, or will his ashes be taken to Sunset, on a big day, and windmilled in to a bomb?
While you are pondering, can we quickly discuss our World Surf League? Oh what a week it has been with sizzling rumors, sizzling rumors half-punctured then sizzling rumors resurrecting again. Santa Monica rarely reaches out directly, but when they did following the first sizzling rumor of a Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch-less future and my phone exploded I thought, “Something must be up.”
Could that something be a robust media deal worth tens and tens of millions of dollars that is currently being negotiated, pitting Facebook against Fox against ESPN for the grand prize?
And let us turn to Front Office Sports for more:
The sport of surfing will be part of the Olympic Games for the first time in Tokyo in 2020. The timing couldn’t be better for the World Surf League (WSL) to commence negotiations for future media deals, with an eye toward richer rights fees and greater visibility.
The surfing governing body currently has a linear TV deal with Fox Sports and a digital deal with Facebook. As the exclusive U.S. broadcaster for the WSL’s Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours as well as the Big Wave Tour, Fox and FS1 are expected to televise more than 500 hours of WSL programming this year.
But those deals expire after this year. WSL and Fox announced a one-year deal in February. Previously, WSL and Facebook announced a two-year deal in January, 2018. The league is expected to reap $30 million from that deal, according to Forbes.
Pri Shumate, the former Nike marketer who joined WSL as chief marketing officer earlier this year, confirmed the governing body has begun negotiating its future media deals.
“We can’t disclose a whole lot of what’s happening because we are having media rights conversations at the moment. But we have had incredible success with both Facebook and Fox,” Shumate said. “Facebook has expanded our audience in the digital universe in a huge way. Obviously, our linear audience has grown as well through Fox. Both of those have been incredible partnerships for us. We are in the process of figuring out how do we move forward for 2020 and beyond.”
Given ESPN’s global reach, they would seem to be a natural contender for WSL rights. But Shumate declined to name possible bidders outside the incumbents.
On the piece goes with extremely bullish talk regarding the size and engagement of professional surfing’s audience and much business-speak from WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt but a sentence, near the end, caught my eye. Let’s read together.
With a young, funky and opinionated audience, sports insiders view WSL as a league with plenty of financial upside.
A young, funky and opinionated audience? That sounds a lot like us doesn’t it? And is Santa Monica selling itself to media partners based on the biggest little surf website in the world? I haven’t read or seen anything even close to “opinionated” anywhere but right here. Well before we pat ourselves on the back and head out to our mailboxes, awaiting royalty checks from that future financial upside let us read nouveau Backward Fin Beth Pri Shumate’s final quote:
“We’re expanding from competition to community. If before our goal was to have this amazing home for core surf fans, we’re expanding into creating a community through surfing. Those people don’t have to necessarily be surfers. They need to love what it is we represent.”
It’s a VAL world, baby. We’re just living in it.