Facebook and the WSL just today announced that all broadcasts of big-time WSL events—meaning the men’s and women’s WCT schedule, ‘QS 10,000 events, and the Big Wave World Tour—will live their digital lives exclusively on Facebook in 2018 and 2019.
Don’t we all.
In 2017, the WSL and Facebook were linked, but it wasn’t an exclusive relationship. But for the next two years at least—the length of the new deal—it will be. According to Forbes, the deal is expected to net the WSL $30 million over the two-year agreement.
“Facebook fosters a global community and, as surfing is a sport that celebrates and centers around community, we are proud to announce our media rights partnership with the platform,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO, said in a presser released today. “This is game-changing for the sport in many ways and, with current and new fans front of mind, we can retain the free offering to fans, and it allows us to deliver the world’s best surfing to even more people on Facebook’s platform.”
The deal is reported to be the biggest and most lucrative in WSL history.
In addition to live webcasts of events, the new arrangement also includes something called “Surfing Sundays” during which the best live action of the week is summed up in an edited package. It’s unclear whether that means competition only, or if it’ll be a weekly wrap-up of freesurfing too.
Global viewers can watch the live events through Facebook’s traditional video feed, while U.S. viewers will get to use Facebook’s new-ish Facebook Watch platform, an on-demand video streaming service that also supports live interactive chat.
The deal certainly makes sense for the WSL which could use the stability such a lucrative deal offers. As for Facebook, well, they’re relying on numbers that suggest there’s a huge audience for surfing in the social media landscape. Facebook also recently decided not to bid on NFL coverage after mulling it over for some time—the WSL deal certainly came cheaper, one would assume.
According to Forbes and the WSL, the WSL came in third in 2017 in terms of social media engagement, when ranked with all other sports leagues in the world, including the NFL, NBA and the English Premier League, based on analysis by the Sports Business Journal and third-party social measurement company Hookit.
What this means for new webcasts is unclear, stay tuned. Or logged in, I guess.