Media Rights for Sale?

Possible changes on the horizon for the ASP World Tour

| posted on July 25, 2012

Gabriel Medina might be carving across a different webcast platform come 2013. Photo: Glaser


SURFER has learned that negotiations between the ASP Board of Directors and an unnamed media organization for the World Tour media rights did not result in a finalized deal. According to an anonymous source that attended the meetings, although the organization vying for media rights made some compelling points, they are still very much involved in the negotiation process and are not yet close to a deal. The source went on to to state that the ASP board would come to a conclusion in September. It was also confirmed that a million-dollar pension plan for pro surfers was placed on the table in hopes of winning the support of the two pro surfer’s reps currently sitting on the board. The ASP Board of Directors is composed of seven voting members, including an independent chairman, two independent directors, two event licensees, and two surfer representatives.

It has also come to light that a second unnamed organization is also involved in bidding for the ASP’s media rights and will make their presentation to the board in September.

If a deal were to be reached with either of the two parties, it would likely not take effect until 2014.

Posted Wednesday, July 25:

The online rumor mill has been churning out whispers that the media rights for ASP World Tour events could be relinquished by individual brands and purchased by a single entity, or blanket sponsor. An ASP meeting is taking place today and tomorrow in Huntington Beach and—if the rumors are true—media rights will be at the top of the agenda. However, according to ASP Media Director Dave Prodan, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

“The ASP Board of Directors is congregating this week (Wednesday and Thursday specifically) in Huntington Beach for their second formal Board Meeting this season,” says Prodan. “As per usual, tour structures, athlete protocols, media rights, judging criteria, new event business, etc. will be discussed and assessed. We have no plans at present to schedule announcements of any kind regarding this week’s meetings.”

Ever since the ASP first relinquished their media rights to the individual brands hosting the events, surfers and pundits have agreed that the best and only way for the ASP to expand and improve its legitimacy would be to secure the media rights for all events under one roof.

In an interview regarding 2010’s Rebel Tour scare, Kelly Slater said he believed the media rights were at the center of the ASP’s troubles. “The inherent problem with the ASP is that it doesn’t own all its media rights,” declared Slater. “It’s very fragmented. You have Billabong, Quiksilver, and Rip Curl owning all the media to all the events. So you don’t have a package—the most valuable asset to the ASP is that media.”

With the cost of running an event coming in between $2.5 and $3 million, and the risk of losing more events next year due to the recent financial struggles of a few major surf brands, it would make sense if this was the year for brands to relinquish the rights (and costs) of broadcasting the events and allow a unifying entity to take ownership.

What do you think the ASP will be talking about this week? Sound off in the comments below.

  • mike todd

    About time they put this on the table all webcast should have a uniform format with the presenting sponsor featured but space left available for non endemic and non competing brands…..if I can make $ from a youtube video I post, the ASP should make some $ from the main source of exposure.

  • jim samuels

    It’s the ASP, so since everyone else notices there’s this huge problem, they probably won’t even talk about it or mention it or even realize there’s a problem for the next 3-4 years. At that point it will already be too late and the ASP will just go ahead and cancel all webcasts and surfing will continue to fall into oblivion.

    A few years ago they used to have webcasts for most evens from 2 stars up to CTs and now pretty much only 6 star primes, WT events and a handful of 6 stars have working functional webcasts.

    I’m pretty amazed there hasn’t been a resurgence of the rebel tour as the ASP really didn’t fix any of the problems originally addressed, Dane has since dropped off tour, and the WT and ASP in general have really just gone downhill in the last few years.

    Hopefully they can secure some real media rights and get some logistical and financial structure in place but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Alex

    here we go again…
    like everything in US, now we have to pay! pay! pay!

    kelly gonna make a few millions here, the brands gonna save a few millions there, and we, the audience who is getting topline broadcasting for free to suddenly pay for it.

  • sd, cali


  • DG

    for the sport to grow its the only option, it has to be done and the sooner the better i think. We will then get even better coverage on mainstream media than currently getting and the surfers maybe also able the benefit. look at what a tennis player or golfer get when they win a comp compared to a surfer risking their life at big pipe, huge cloudbreak or teahupoo.

  • The Scavenger

    I am all for throwing in a little money for uniform contest broadcasts. ($5 bucks an event?) It would be nice to have some consistency. Further it would take any sponsorship bias out of the equation, which i believe KS has addressed before.

  • E

    Nike. Second that comment. They’ve been waiting and watching.

  • GoL

    Wow. Hard to believe this is just getting on the table, when Billabong is lowering Jbay to a QS, yet still sponsoring a nothing comp in Japan. A unified media front is better for sponsorship of events, and making the ASP a more powerful entity as the head of the Tour. Having competing sponsors, all trying to get their nut, and filling in their own announcers has proven to be lame (see Rip Curl trying to capitalize on Ke11y, and that whole debacle). The ASP right now is a toothless lion, and with the big companies crying poor, and great events being lost, a change is needed NOW.

  • Center Line

    Advertisement savy. Medina Media

  • Jabin

    at least it might start making the broadcasts more standardized rather than hit and miss speed and camera work and quality etc. but in saying that dont watch it all that much usually mainly at work or if im really bored and is nothing better to do. cant see them charging for it either as after all most mags and websites have free movies most months these days.

  • Michael L.

    If it weren’t for the webcasts, many like myself wouldn’t be into following the tour and making an effort to show up at their local events.

    Despite the occasional coughs on the webcasts, they have generally been very good. Remember: they’re filming the event, sending it up to space then back again, and then through miles of fiber optics until it reaches our computers. How can anyone complain about an occasional cough or delay?

    There are many bottle necks along that route, and the ISPS and people’s computers are likely guilty.

    If the ASP simply charges users for the entire webcast, they may shot their foot and find a huge loss of audience (and of payment).

    The only fair way would be to have a free webcast with lower quality and less features, and charge for higher quality and more features. If my connection is poor (sometimes I might be on a ship or at a remote area), I would like to try and watch the low quality/bandwidth version, but would never pay fire something I could not watch, such as high quality.

    webcast should be charged in different levels and offers: per day, per heat, per event, per quality.

    ASP must also be careful as once people pay, they MUST deliver what the clients expect. If they don’t deliver what the customers paid for, then they’ll face another problem: loss of audience and frustrated clients with lawyers.

  • Whamo

    Sponsors need to learn that webcasts of junk surf do not attract attention.

  • Scott Campbell

    Let it die. Bottom line, contests are boring. The people clamoring for surfing to grow are not thinking this through enough. Every time the sport grows, there becomes less wave resources to share. I’m here in Cabo right now, and it is more crowded than the places I surf in San Diego. What we really need is to stop allowing surfing to be prostituted out for money.

  • dan

    Its a private entity, if it wants to charge, its not up to anyone else to approve or disapprove, just pay or don’t pay, thats your voice.
    I have watched events since the late 90s when you could hardly tell who it was riding the wave. The new webcasts are awesome, and I for one watch not so much for drama, but for the chance to see unedited surfing in locations I mostly will never see in person. If you don’t like the asp or think they are making cabo crowded, then don’t watch.

  • Dixie Normiss

    Here in Oz we have access to cable (actually, mine is satellite) TV. One of the channels is Fuel TV who are this year broadcasting every event on the Tour live. (I’m thinking that they may be after the rights).

    It costs me $7.95 per month extra to purchase the package with Fuel. I’m LOVING it. I’m happy with it. It’s really good value to watch it on a big screen TV rather than watching a piddley webcast. Although, I do watch the QS’s regularly on webcasts……. when they’re working.

    Which brings up the subject of WQS comps. Will any money be filtered down to a grass roots level?

  • Ev

    Why would Ke11y try to create a rebel tour when his rich friends now own the ASP? With his input, the ASP contest format is going to get interesting.

    The reason why surfing can’t make money is that it’s free to go to the beach and watch. There are no tickets to be sold to a stadium or course. Charge the companies for commercial time, just like the networks do. I would be willing to pay $15/year if they charge for pay-per-view webcasts. Put that money into quality webcasts. Have longer waiting periods for quality swells at quality spots. People will pay a few bucks to watch.

  • ccru

    @Michael L – That makes a lot of sense to me if they are looking for more revenue and there is an audience willing to pay. I’d be on board for a high-quality webcast that cost $ with a rock solid stream.

  • Michael

    This is a brilliant idea! By centralizing the sponsorship, it allows the company willing to do so, the ability to streamline and give proper value to the media side of every event. Therefor putting appropriate pressure to put out a quality product, with quality announcers, who’s job it is to advocate and educate the consumers of the events.

    As for charging at events/for events, said sponsor is then allowed allot of privilege to sell retail at those events-therefore making up some of the expense of each event, and allowing that company to do better and ongoing product launch. I think this is a big win for the competitors and the asp. And, frankly, everyone should be paying Kelly because he not not only made pro surfing exciting, but also saved pro surfing from itself…

  • jeff

    do whatever slater says, the asp need to listen to the bald guy because when he retires, how many of us will still watch? also scrap the beachbreaks and lets have some perfect waves, bring back the dream tour

  • michael Ginsberg

    For 5years the ASP was run by that idiot Brodie who allowed pro surfing to be hijacked by the corporates and now we find ourselves in this ridiculous situation. ASP requires a courageous smart CEO to re-structure and do what needs to be done pronto

  • Thomas

    Prediction: Nike will become the main sponsor of the tour and kolhe willbe would champ by 2014. Hands Down!

  • Joe slapaho

    I think it’s all B.S. With the rumor of a takeover and a new tour “to be announced during the us open” I think they spread this BS media deal to buy some time. I think whatever happens the asp or whoever runs the new tour should get rid of every tour stop that’s running now and start over. Devise a new lineup of stops based on waves and time of year for the best conditions. Plus own and run every event by themselves and sell advertising/naming rights per each event. No longer will bong or quiksilver own run and control their current pro events. Make them BID each for each event. These company’s complain that it costs 2/3 million to run a event lmfao $500,000 and I could throw one helluva contest. To many company’s just think about plastering their names all over the beach and webcast. Or how about checking the forecast and seeing that Tahiti will be pumping next week and announce a contest $100,000 winner take all. Call it the 24/7 tour

  • Dale Kriegerhuf

    Love surf comps, but rarely watch webcasts (only North Shore Triple Crown) and would therefore not pay to watch them. What about the small Star events, who’s gonna pay to watch those? If surfing wants mainstream acceptance and the big dollars that come with it, they’re gonna have to sell out; no way around it. Can you imagine the Wal Mart Pro or Proctor & Gamble Pro Junior? Televised surf events will bring in larger general audiences and big sponsor dollars, not some jerky webcast with 3 brainless surfer bros talking dudeese. Go Fuel TV and Time Warner! I might pay for HD telecast of big contest but don’t quote me

  • terry bailey

    we already pay… over priced clothes pay for these guys life styles… if you have to pay more???? k-mart has stuff made in the same town in china as all the major surf clothing companies do

  • Hank

    If they have only one sponsor, your work firewall will pick it up and block it. You’re done, no more catching a heat at lunch, nada.