Media Rights for Sale?

Possible changes on the horizon for the ASP World Tour

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

UPDATE:

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.