Hello, hardened purist.
World Surf League President of Content, Media, Studios and Big Mouth Burgers Erik “ELo” Logan gave a long and wonderful interview to the industry website SportsPro yesterday and it was so very elucidating. You know how difficult it is for us to peer over that Wall of Positive Noise no matter how we try. Almost impossible for The People™ to see the gilded wonderland beyond but thankfully SportsPro was there for us and so was ELo but almost not for, as he revealed, he nearly missed the interview due to “taking one too many extra waves this morning.”
Who he took them from was not shared.
Oh it is purely fascinating and I won’t even try to summarize. I’ll give you the view straight and without my breathless editorialization. Let’s dip our paddles right in.
On leaving Oprah to join the World Surf League: “As an active surfer myself, and a storyteller working for Oprah and others, I thought, ‘wow, what an amazing opportunity to take storytelling in the sport to a new level’. The idea around this is to be just a massive storytelling engine where we can connect the humanity and the power of surfing to the masses. What we’re creating on our platforms is this very broad diversity of ways to elevate and deepen engagement with the sport.”
On giving Gabriel Medina a voice: “I think it’s important to really note that the way we’ve approached it from a studio perspective is we view our athletes as partners. If we do our job right, we can make them bigger and more powerful stars globally. That not only benefits them, but when that happens it benefits the league and benefits the studio.”
On turning lead into gold: “Surfing is a universally accepted global sport, it’s a very personal sport because of the individual nature, and it’s always you against mother nature. Because of that alchemy for what exists in the ocean, it really gives a great arena for rich and layered stories.”
On getting rich or dying trying: “We think there’s a tremendous opportunity around how we can monetise our fans on a one-to-one basis incredibly well. We want to try to figure out the right way to do that. What a broader content offering does is allows us the opportunity to do it beyond just what our play-by-play rights could be. We see a very holistic ecosystem out there around the sport of surfing that is inclusive – not only content, but also acquired content, live play-by-play, ecommerce, endemic partnerships. We see a very robust horizon for us.”
On choosing either red or blue pills: “That matrix of rights, and that matrix of thought, in terms of how the league is maximising our rights and also growing our audience at the same time is what we and the ownership group are really talking about a lot. How that needle is threaded is one that we spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to figure out where we want to put those bets.”
On and on it goes and you must thread the needle through that robust horizon yourself but before we leave each other, I am beyond pleased, tickled even, to report that The Biggest Little Surf Website in the World, and its Longtom, snuck onto ELo’s stage. Shall we read together?
There are factions within the surfing community who have their doubts, however; in short, some hardened purists are not buying what the dapper, suit-wearing execs at the WSL are selling. One writer for the satirical surf outlet BeachGrit recently described the tour’s latest ventures in content as possessing ‘a schmaltz problem’, singling out Brilliant Corners, a slickly produced yet syrupy travel series hosted by former European longboard champion Sam Bleakley, as ‘very nice, very pretty and as obedient as a tame animal.’
Oooooeee! Hardened Purists! Maybe even better than Grumpy Locals!
We need t-shirts stat and I’ll inform you of when they’re available.
In the meantime, buy a regular ol satirical surf outlet one here!