How much is pro surfing really worth to you?
An email from the WSL may have dropped into your inbox overnight. "We're considering offering a premium paid experience with no ads in 2018! Please tell us what you think." Uh oh. I bet you were thinking what I was thinking, here comes the pay wall. Well, not before they do their homework. The WSL brass want to do their research and see how much, we the consumer, are willing to part with our hard-earned to watch the pro tour.
The survey offered, “Would you pay per event? Per event? Per year?”
For a year pass the lowest price option was $25 or under, moving up in $25 increments, topping out at $100+ for those with deeper pockets.
Now it’s no secret that a few new heads have assembled in the boardroom following former WSL CEO, Paul Speaker’s departure from the top job. New big wig, Sophie Goldschmidt, has brought on Joe Carr, formerly from the UFC, where he left his mark creating a very successful Pay Per View model. Someone sound the alarm.
In the short time the new WSL Overlords have been seated at the table, the tour schedule has been turned on its head. Trestles is gone, Cloudbreak is gone. Bye bye two of the best events that have provided highlight reels and watershed moments in our sport. Replacing them is the addition of a wave pool event at Lemoore, and Keramas is back in for now. And that’s just what’s in store for 2018.
It looks like 2019 is when all the game-changing shit will happen. A schedule re-shuffle. Pipe in Jan, Brazil remains, the tour finishing in a battle royale in Indo. Does that mean there will be an abandonment of the Triple Crown? Will the number of surfers on tour be cut down?
Change is the perpetual theme here. And, the WSL want to make sure their tour stays outta the red and makes its way into the green.
But will the WSL make the drop?
Like other subscription based websites there’s often a “free trial period”. Content will come ad free, no roll overs, pop ups, unlimited access to articles etcetera for a month but then you gotta pay. Will you trial a “premium” site and then be spat back out into the ad abyss?
Or will “premium” access grant you behind the scenes interviews, sessions, insights and access to your favourite surfers just like the NBA, NFL and the UFC do?
There’s still so many questions surrounding how the new world order plan to propel surfing’s global reach. However, wherever they plan to take it right now it sure as hell feels like it’s away from its core.
One WSL industry insider told Tracks that the WSL’s appetite for change is all about garnering appeal to new audiences. How? It’s rumoured, watering down the heavy-laden surf talk on webcasts so surfing is more relatable to the Average Joe.
Oddly it was only a couple of weeks ago in a conference call with select members of the surf media did CEO Goldschmidt rule out any Pay Per View model taking flight in 2018.
“Are there any plans to charge for webcasts next year, or will all events be free?” asked Surfline.
Sophie Goldschmidt: “All of our events next year will be broadcast live and for free on our platforms.”
So, will the WSL roll out a Pay Per View model in 2018 or keep their word and shelve it until 2019? Our questions have been sent to their VP of Communications, Dave Prodan.
In the meantime, tell us what you’d pay to watch the WSL? Would you buy a yearly pass, choose specific events only, or simply let it go?