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ASP Media Rights For Sale?

July 31st, 2012

Are possible changes on the horizon for the ASP World Tour?

A little bird, from the SURFER Mag camp, has apparently discovered that negotiations between the ASP Board and an unidentified media organization for the ASP World Tour media rights didn’t result in a finalized deal. According to the unnamed source that attended the meetings, although the unidentified organization competing for media rights made many persuasive points, they’re still caught up in the negotiation process and are not yet close to an actual deal. The unnamed source goes on to to say that the ASP board would agree on a final conclusion in September this year and apparently a million dollar pension plan for pro surfers was floated in hopes of gaining the backing of the 2 pro surfer’s reps presently sitting on the board. The ASP Board of Directors is made up of 7 voting members, including an independent chairman, 2 independent directors, 2 event licensees and 2 surfer representatives.

Since this first negotiation was discovered apparently a second unnamed organization has also got involved in the bidding process for the ASP’s media rights and will present their proposal to the board also in September, but if a deal were to be reached with either of the 2 parties, it would likely not take effect until 2014.

The idea behind the discussions is that the media rights for ASP World Tour events should be released by individual brands and taken on by a single entity, or comprehensive sponsor. The discussion takes place at Huntington Beach and media rights will be at the hot topic on 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 surrendered their media rights to the individual brands hosting the events, surfers and initiates have both agreed that the best and only real way for the ASP to expand and better its legitimacy would be to secure the media rights for all events under one roof. In an interview involving 2010’s Rebel Tour scare, 11x champ, Kelly Slater, said he thought the media rights were at the center of the ASP’s problems.

“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 ASP event amounting to between $2.5 and $3 million, plus with the danger of losing more events next year due to the past financial battles of a lot of the major surf brands, it would make sense if this was the year for major brands to renounce the rights and cost of broadcasting the events and allow a amalgamating entity to takeover.


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