A TOPIC of hot debate these days is webcasts. In my last blog I briefly touched on it and we received a plethora of comments. With change in the wind at ASP HQ, will it howl onshore, or produce a refreshing offshore and groomed corduroy lines of fan contentment?
When you take a sneak peak at other sports and federations (e.g. NFL, AFL, Olympics) they have been moving towards producing and owning their own media platforms. The best example is probably Redbull and their content pool that they built from scratch a few years back. It now houses all their media assets in one place with an incredible distribution network. So successful has the 'Bull been that we have seen them make partnerships with Volcom in Fiji and O’Neill in Santa Cruz in 2012.
Up until now the ASP has kind of owned their media rights (but not really) and never had the resources to produce anything. Brodie Carr
Up until now the ASP has kind of owned their media rights (but not really) and never had the resources to produce anything. The events have done the legwork for the majority of the media production and distribution - carrying the can for sometimes up to $500k per event. The question is, has this been a good or bad arrangement?
The good. When cash was plentiful it worked to the fans' advantage with the surf brands fighting trench warfare for who could produce the best media package. Over the previous 10 years we have seen incredible leaps in the webcasts – amazing coverage from remote places (who can forget the Billabong Pro Tahiti 2011), the incredible Heat Analyzer and how about Rip Curl’s live chopper cam at Bells this year? I would argue this side of it has been extremely successful and beneficial for fans of the sport.
The bad. Inconsistency has held back global deals and improvements. When a webcast fails we are all quick to jump down the throat of the ASP and sponsor, take Fiji in 2008 as an example. The ASP has struggled (I know I was there) to do global deals because it didn’t have the resources, and didn’t own and control the media production and output.
But will it still be for free? I hate to ask the question as it always seems to end with the toys-out-of-the-cot. The ASP has hinted that a media rights deal will be announced in the coming months, but they have also indicated that they wanted to keep the web casts “fancentric” and not go down the pay-per-view path.Brodie Carr
The ASP is in the process of investing in 2013 and gearing up for a big bang in 2014. They have leased new offices in LA, are fitting them out with edit suites and all the new media toys. Their eyes are focussed on: greater consistency, more reliability and better media production.
But will it still be for free? I hate to ask the question as it always seems to end with the toys-out-of-the-cot, but the ASP has hinted that a media rights deal will be announced in the coming months. They have also indicated that they wanted to keep the web casts “fancentric” and not go down the pay-per-view path.
My gut is telling me that yes it will be part for free. I predict a standard webcast that we will all be able to view and then a premium package with things like: bonus footage, behind the scenes, exclusive interviews, camera control (no you can’t go to Kelly’s changing room, girls, or Alana’s, boys).
ESPN is the most likely candidate for a media partnership with an existing affinity with actions sports in their X Games property. They have undertaken a gobal expansion of the X Games in 2013 (e.g. adding Brazil, Barcelona) and recently announced a partnership with Rob Dydrek’s Streetleague skate competition. With the ASP focused on a World Champion over a number of events, locations and wave types, it has not meshed with the the X Games mold of going for gold in one event (works for Shaun White though). Whether or not any changes to the format are implemented in 2014, I feel that ESPN wants to get its hands more around action sports and it must have surfing in its stable to truly be legitimate.
With the traditional stick and ball sports owning the ESPN platform it has always been difficult for surfing to get its nose in there, however when you do it means big eyeballs in the USA. But what about rest of the world? It’s a worry for me. The Winter X Games in Europe has not really delivered on the pay-per-view model (sorry I said that ugly word PPV) producing some disappointing numbers.
The other big fish is News Corp and with the right deal nutted out with Mr Murdock it could be massive for the ASP and pro surfing. Every market, every platform. Has anyone seen Paul Speaker on the Avenue of the Americas lately? I know he has been in New York.