World Surf League: events will be live streamed on Facebook | Photo: Poullenot/WSL

World Surf League (WSL) and Facebook announced a partnership that makes the social media platform the exclusive digital home for the top live events in surfing in 2018 and 2019.

The new deal includes all elite men's and women's Championship Tour (CT) events, the Qualifying Series 10,000 contests, the Big Wave Tour (BWT) events, as well as the WSL World Junior Championships.

The partnership builds upon the non-exclusive live rights agreement that Facebook and WSL struck last year, in which all men's and women's CT events, as well as Big Wave Tour events, were simulcast on Facebook and WSL's website and mobile app.

According to the pro surfing circuit, more than 13.9 million people watched a WSL event on Facebook in 2017, and they came from countries all over the world. The top three countries regarding unique viewers were in the United States, Brazil, and Mexico.

"Facebook fosters a global community and, as surfing is a sport that celebrates and centers around the community, we are proud to announce our media rights partnership with the platform," said Sophie Goldschmidt, CEO at WSL.

"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."

"We're thrilled. This is a natural next step in our partnership, which has steadily progressed over the years as the WSL has expertly used Facebook to distribute content and build community," added Dan Reed, Facebook Head of Global Sports Partnerships.

World Surf League: surfing became one of the top  3 sports leagues in the world in social engagement | Photo: Poullenot/WSL

"This was especially true last year when millions of fans came together to our platform to watch live surfing."

The relationship has proved to be a model example of a flexible, innovative and collaborative relationship for both parties. All live events will be available globally on Facebook.

Those in the United States will be able to tune in on Facebook Watch, a video platform where content, conversation, and community come together.

The partnership also calls for additional Facebook Watch programming, such as Surfing Sundays, which recaps each week's top surfing action, with more programming planned in 2018 on this platform.

The shows are part of the World Surf League's robust content offering. The WSL produces around 800 hours of live content a year across multiple disciplines, as well as a wide array of static storytelling and educational content covering the sport, history, heritage and culture of surfing.

According to a study led by Sports Business Journal and third-party social measurement firm Hookit, the WSL ranked in the top 3 sports leagues in the world in social engagement, alongside the NFL and NBA.

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