The ASP World Championship Tour starts tomorrow! The off-season between Hawaii and the Goldy events has not seen much time out of the water for the boys and girls, unless you are Steph Gilmore (she hones her skills in New York these days). Massive winter swells in the Northern Hemi and some cyclones in Oz means everyone should be paddle fit and ready to rock 'n' roll on March 2.
Yesterday the ASP announced their new CEO (Paul Speaker) and Interim Commissioner with KP (Kieren Perrow). I am happy to see KP involved in the mix to ensure the sport retains surfer input. Build a tour for the surfers and the surfers will surf the tour I say!
So what else has been happening at ASP in the off-season and what can we expect for this year?
For starters the ASP has moved its international operations to Southern California in preparation for the transition to Zosea Media in 2014. A good thing if you ask me. Change is good, it rattles the cage, sparks ideas and innovation plus hopefully will bring some much-needed greenback into the ASP coffers.
From 2014 the ASP will take over all the WCT licence agreements, event ownership and operations… and that’s a dam big spend - my calculation has it in the US$25m per annum. The plan will be to see some outside of industry players move into the sponsorship chairs and fill the money jar. Zosea Media has good backing so it's not like it must get all the money in year one, but it will want to make significant progress in clawing back cash injected to stay interested in the long term. No one really likes to give money away. So ASP and Zosea Media is taking this year to get its ducks in a row rather than diving direct into the shallow end from 2013.
The hot question is will it mean webcast pay-per-view? My prediction is you bet it will. There will be some freeview but the top-notch stuff is going to be pay-per-view. Brodie Carr
When the changeover (sounds like China taking back HK doesn’t it) does happen I predict most of the change will come on the media rights front – consistent web teams and production, global broadcast deals and partnerships. Something similar to the way major leagues are run now with full production suites, teams punching out great web clips, graphics etc. Damn I wish I had this at my disposal in my reign. The hot question is will it mean webcast pay-per-view? My prediction is you bet it will. There will be some freeview but the top-notch stuff is going to be pay-per-view. We will see a blogosphere blow-up, but if you are getting gold then you should hand over a little silver.
ASP added the Oakley Pro Bali to the WCT calendar for 2013. A great brand to step into the melting pot and who doesn’t love Bali. Not the greatest window for Keramas but with a packed second half of the year it's really the only slot available. The Search will be sitting on the bench for this year and we all hope to have it back one day. It was definitely one my favourite events.
On the Women’s front the tour has added Margaret’s and there is another one coming soon but we really need events in the back end of the year and please something in Hawaii and decent surf. It has always been the challenge for ASP and I see the Women as a real winner out of the Zosea media deal. They will get better media support, prize money and I am predicting some more events. Lets see how the year pans out.
The WQS remains somewhat unchanged in 2013, most of the tentative events you see on the schedule will confirm, just give them some time. There is still a void of Prime events especially in Europe but watch this space as the Portuguese Mafia is on the verge of something here. Normally how it plays out is the more Primes in a Region them the more qualifiers from there. So I see tough year for the Europeans to get on the WCT.
ASP has gone from a 3 event World Junior Tour to no events in 2013. They will pull a rabbit out of the hat as it is too important a stepping stone to the WCT to not have it.
I can tell you it’s not a cheap investment to run an ASP WCT event. Brodie Carr
Now to finish off for my first editorial is to give thanks to the Surf Brands that have supported the ASP World Tour for 30 years. Yeah it’s a strange finish I know but it is easy to point the finger and blame the surf brands for not allowing the sport to grow but I turn this on its head. I can tell you it’s not a cheap investment to run an ASP WCT event. You are looking at upwards of US$3m and that’s a lot boardshorts to sell to get a 3 million dollar marketing spend. Just ask Nike who invested a lot into their events and raising the level of the sport to eventually say hey the ROI ummm just is not here.
I can understand why we bash the ASP and the surf brands because it is in our DNA. We are surfers, we are individuals that don’t like to be told, we like to be reckless, and we don’t like establishment. So it’s kind of a normal everyday thing and we don’t think about it for a second. The surf brands have been the only ones who have constantly invested in the sport and nurtured it. Foster’s, Nike and others came and went. We do our best to not welcome them, kick them when we can and then turn around to look at the endemic brands to help again.
No they didn’t pay me to say that. I just wanted to set the record straight, so go buy a some new boardies!
You can follow me on instragram at @bjcarr and I look forward to the delightful mud-slinging that you will throw my way.