In a release Friday, October 5th, 2012, the Association of Surfing Professionals International announced a new buyer for future media rights by a widely unknown organization by the name of ZoSea. Reportedly owned and operated by Kelly Slater’s manager, Terry Hardy, former president at Time Inc., Paul Speaker, and board of directors member at Quiksilver, the partnership details have been vague before details are confirmed as to the terms of the deal. Media outlets have reported various term details in speculation as to what this means for the future of ASP competitive surfing, as the news of ZoSea’s new deal peaks interest from the surf industry left rather in the dark as the agreement details are confirmed. The agreement is said to enhance the organizational structure of the sport as well as the direction of professional surfing in the coming years, with strong support by Quiksilver and ASP Board Members.
“I do feel lots of the details are in line with things that make more sense,” Kelly Slater told Surfing Life. “A unified product, streamlined media rights with a proper outlet, basically the delivery of what’s happening being improved. Imagine any other sport letting sponsors do what they please with all it’s media content?! It’s ridiculous. It seems like this is the only chance at this happening since I’ve been a part of the sport… This actual deal sounds amazing for the ASP and I’m happy the sponsors had enough vision to vote in favor of it. I don’t know what they’d have done in the next two years otherwise. Hopefully we look back and think of what lucky and great timing it was to happen when it did.”
The ASP has been in talks with ZoSea over the last year, finally accepting their proposal in conjunction with Slater’s win at the Quiksilver Pro in Hossegor, France. ESPN reported that the ZoSea model will mimic the “organizational structure for the ASP modeled after leading sports organizations such as the NFL and the NBA.” More details regarding the relationship between ZoSea and the ASP won’t be finalized until Dec. 17, when the long-form agreement will be signed, reported ESPN.
ZoSea is reported to take over media rights in 2013, in turn hiring a new commissioner and CEO, and taking over the securing of secondary sponsorship deals for the events from the brands later in 2014. They are expected to produce World Tour webcasts, while WQS and Junior webcasts would continue to be produced by sponsor brands. With the intitial agreement, websites for all ASP World Tour contests would be standardized with ZoSea repsonsible to hire a single production and commentary team to work all events, reported Surfing Life.
“For the first time in the history of the sport, the ASP will provide surfers (both current and future) with a legitimate pension fund, offering financial security and bolstering career longevity to those who dedicate their lives to competing amongst the world’s best and pushing the performance boundaries of the sport,” said ASP’s Media Director, Dave Prodan.
While ZoSea Founder, Terry Hardy, is deeply involved in the decision, his star client, Kelly Slater, has distanced himself from the details: “I’ve chosen for months to stay out of the details of any of this. I do trust it’s a better opportunity for surfing though and I’d like to see what surfing can be on its own merit with a good platform, which this is a step in the direction of. I haven’t sat down with Terry’s group and discussed most details of anything … I was actually very surprised when Terry told me in June how far down the line things were getting,” Slater told Surfing Life.
The Surf Channel would also like to know if the Women’s WCT will gain further support from the deal, and if its being discussed since the Women’s Tour has been fighting to stay alive as sponsors drop and the season shortens. Hopefully these star athletes and the future of female competitive suffering are included as the details of the agreement are confirmed. Rumors of an increase in prize money at women’s events are circulating, with minimum prize-money increased from $110,00 to $250,000.
“Pro surfing has now placed its fate in new, private and largely unknown hands,” Australia’s Surfing Life reported.
The following is a formal release announced Friday by the ASP:
Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) International has entered into a Term Sheet with ZoSea Media (founded by Paul Speaker and Terry Hardy) 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.
“It’s an important time for surfing,” Kieren Perrow, ASP Surfer Representative, said. “The supporters of the sport have sacrificed a lot of time and energy into professional surfing, and it has brought us to our current position where we’re attractive to a larger market with the ability to take surfing to a whole new level. Everyone, from the surfers to the fans to the events to the sport, will benefit and it’s an exciting time for the ASP.”
The formal closing of this transaction between ZoSea Media and ASP International is anticipated to be achieved by year’s end. Both parties are focused on executing a smooth transition towards the continued enhancement of professional surfing.
“When we embarked on the experiment that is professional surfing, our goal was to create a dynamic, genuine sporting product while retaining the authenticity of the culture,” Rod Brooks, Quiksilver Event Director, said. “The progress made, not only by the organization, but in its ability to consistently push the high-performance boundaries of the sport is something we’re all very proud of. Surfing, as an act, is constantly evolving and the governing body must evolve and adapt to maintain relevance. We’re all very excited about where this next step will take us and extremely supportive.”
The next stop on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour will be the Rip Curl Pro Portugal in Peniche from October 10 – 21, 2012.
For more information log onto www.aspworldtour.com