It was announced today that the ASP board of directors have reached a term-sheet deal with ZoSea Media that could alter the current state of the ASP. The deal, originally put forth on July 24, was finalized in Europe yesterday by the ASP Board of Directors on the heels of the Quiksilver Pro France.
Although extremely light on details, a statement from the ASP said the following: “ASP International has entered into a Term Sheet with ZoSea Media designed to enhance the organizational structure of the sport as well as the direction of professional surfing in the coming years. This measure enjoys the comprehensive support of surfers, events, staff and ASP Board Members.” The release went on to say that the deal is expected to be formally closed by year’s end.
Although the press release from the ASP gave no mention of the ASP’s “media rights” it is largely assumed that they were the focal point of the deal.
ZoSea Media is an organization founded by Terry Hardy and Paul Speaker. Hardy has been working as Kelly Slater’s manager for years while a report on Forbes Magazine states that Speaker has worked for the NFL, TIME Inc. Studios, and a variety of other entertainment companies.
The ASP’s media rights have been a cause of debate for some time. In 2007 the ASP licensed their media rights to the presenting sponsors of each event. Critics argue that because the ASP does not own the rights to their own media, they are failing to capitalize on what could potentially be a substantial source of revenue. The details surrounding the deal have not yet been released, but it could be assumed that because of the strong economic headwind facing many of the sport’s premier brands, coupled with the staggering cost of running an event, the climate was ripe for an outside agency to begin bidding for the ASP’s media rights.
It’s currently estimated to cost between $3 and $5 million to run a men’s World Tour event and having a third party control the media rights would take a significant amount of financial strain away from the sponsors.
Media right issues were at the core of the failed Kelly Slater-backed and Terry Hardy-led Rebel Tour of 2010. At the height of the speculation surrounding the Rebel Tour, SURFER asked Slater what issues he had with the ASP. In response, Slater stated that “the inherent problem with the ASP is that it doesn’t own all its media rights. 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. The whole purpose [of the breakaway tour] is to reset that foundation…”
For today’s deal to pass, it had to be confirmed through the seven ASP voting members, which include an independent chairman, two independent directors, two event licensees, and two surfer representatives.