Surfing: pay-per-view or beach-to-view

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) is studying the possibility of introducing a pay-per-view system for the online broadcast of the ASP World Tour surfing stages.


The number of live stream enthusiasts has been growing steadily in the last years. Millions of surf fans invade the event's official site in order to capture the stoke, from all corners of the world. Surfing has evolved thanks to the digital democracy.

Meanwhile, pro surfers are lobbying for more cash in prize money and sponsoring rights. Surf brands abandon iconic stages - New York, for example - in order to secure their yearly net profits. Which means that the broader audience they helped create is also going to kill their revenues.

"A pay-per-view webcast/broadcast model has been discussed in depth at the ASP Board level, and is an option for moving forward," Dave Prodan, ASP International Media Director, tells ESPN.

"There is obvious resistance to moving away from the free model towards a pay-per-view model in regards to the risk of reduction of fans," Prodan continues.

""There is obvious resistance to moving away from the free model towards a pay-per-view model in regards to the risk of reduction of fans," Prodan continues. "However, if the pay-per-view model were to result in continued premium event locations and perhaps an enhancement upon the delivery of the current product, then one could feasibly estimate that the fan base would be happy to pay for the experience".

While that is absolutely true, it's really important to know who the audience is. SurferToday.com has been studying the profile of the average surfer and the correspondent drill-down by continent, nation, region and city, in the Surf Industry Research study developed.

Current figures show that a pay-per-view surf ticket will dramatically reduce the number of fans following their idols, as well as a drastic number of surf brand contacts with the market.

Of course, it will be different if prices charged are 40$ or 10$ per season. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing webcast collected 10.4 million views. How much will it cost to watch a single event? One dollar or three dollars? The question remains for both cases: how will surf fans see it?