World Surf League and Facebook announce exclusive new partnership

Building on their non-exclusive streaming rights with Facebook last year, the World Surf League has now penned an exclusive deal with the social media platform to show their events next year.

The deal comes on the back of last year’s success where the league simulcast its Championship Tour and Big Wave Tour events on Facebook and the WSL app. Now, that deal with Facebook is moving to exclusivity, allowing the platform to add surfing to its Facebook Watch product in the US.

Watch hasn’t yet rolled out in the UK, and we’re still waiting to see exactly what form it will take, and what users’ relationships with the platform will be. But for Facebook, adding more live sport as well as extra programming around it will be vital.

For the WSL, Facebook provides global reach, and a platform which might afford them the possibility to gain traction in parts of the world they never have done before. Last February, more than 13.9 million people watched a World Surf League event on Facebook, and the league was able to count viewers from all over the world on the stream.

“Facebook fosters a global community and, as surfing is a sport that celebrates and centers around community, we are proud to announce our media rights partnership with the platform,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO, said. “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 to become the exclusive home of the World Surf League’s live events for the next two years,” said Dan Reed, Facebook Head of Global Sports Partnerships. “This is a natural next step in our terrific partnership, which has steadily progressed over the years as the League has expertly used Facebook to distribute content and build community. This was especially true last year, when millions of fans came together on our platform to watch live surfing. We’re excited to help WSL continue to serve and grow this vibrant community and usher in a new era of surf broadcasting on Facebook Watch.”

The deal is another reminder not just of the reach of Facebook and the power of live-streaming for boosting a sport’s popularity, but also of the way in which a new medium of consumption – like live-streaming on social media – can suit some sports in a way that traditional broadcasts don’t. The WSL is taking advantage of its popularity on social media, and the benefits seem to be mutual.

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Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 831 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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