SBD Global/August 13, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • ASP Overhaul Proves Successful As Viewership, Attendance Numbers Rise

    ASP CEO Paul Speaker calls Kelly Slater "the best athlete that has ever lived."

    The two-year transformation of the Association of Surfing Professionals is showing signs of success with its management already looking to the future. Viewership and attendance numbers have been on the rise since the takeover of the ASP by ZoSea Media close to two years ago. The live webcast of the Vans US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach had a cumulative viewership of more than 1.4 million from July 28-Aug. 3, according to IMG, which co-organized the event. ASP CEO Paul Speaker told SBD Global that the series has seen a 420% increase in its viewing audience across the different platforms. He added that the ASP’s use of social media is a driving force behind this increase. “Our sport doesn’t start at 1 o’clock and end at 3 o’clock,” Speaker said. “It is key for us to use social media to tell our fan base when we are on.” The ASP decided to split its media rights into three categories: a global digital deal with YouTube, a highlights show that is globally distributed through large broadcasters such as ESPN in the U.S., and live broadcast deals like with Fuel TV in Australia. Going forward, Speaker said, the ASP will need to be attentive to shoulder programming as distribution starts to change. “We got a 30-year archive. We have the opportunity to blow out a pretty significant relationship around storytelling, around our sport,” he said. In terms of on-site performance, all World Championship Tour events have seen a rise in attendance this season. Speaker attributes this increase to the changes in design and layout of the event beaches to move fans closer to the action. He said, “Attendance is up and the fan experience is better.” Speaker declined to comment on the ASP’s current financial situation, though he added, “We have all the revenue line items of a traditional sport, licensing, media rights and sponsorships.”

    ASP-Sanctioned Tours

    • Men's and Women's World Championship Tours
    • Men's and Women's Qualification Series
    • Men's Big Wave World Tour
    • Men's and Women's World Longboard Championship
    • Men's and Women's World Junior Championship 
    URBAN OPPORTUNITIES: With the ASP seeing positive development in the first year under complete ownership by ZoSea, its management has already set its sight on new opportunities. ASP Global CCO Mark Noonan said it is very rare that a single property controls 100% of the content. “Working at MLS or U.S. Soccer, we always had a comparison to the great leagues in Europe and the great leagues in South America and the growing leagues in Australia and the J.League,” he said. “It really is a powerful proposition that has come together under this new ownership.” The ASP plans to use the growth in technology and user experience to strengthen the positioning and public awareness of professional surfing and its sanctioned competitions. In addition, Speaker said that the ASP will launch an initiative around special events at some point in ’15 or ‘16. “There’s an opportunity that we have, where maybe the waves are not as great or as perfect for a WCT event but gives us the opportunity to showcase our athletes -- more of an exhibition,” he said. The ASP is also patiently waiting for wave-pool technology to evolve. Speaker said that once there is a system in place that can create three-to-eight-foot waves, the ASP can create a stadium environment and schedule special events designed for TV. “It also would be a great opportunity for us to increase the potential for future athletes to come out of non-surf related communities and emerging markets.” However, Speaker believes that the technology is still two to three years away.

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, North America
  • German Football League Renews Licensing Deals With Electronic Arts, Topps

    German Football League (DFL) Sports Enterprises awarded the licensing rights for interactive entertainment products for the Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga to Electronic Arts for another three seasons. Electronic Arts, which has been a partner of the league since '98, received the exclusive rights for match and manager simulation. In addition, Dutch company Gamebasics received a manager simulation license in German, Turkish and Arabic. All licenses are valid across all gaming platforms and operating systems. In the sticker and trading cards sector, Topps Germany remains the league's official partner. Topps also received the license for a digital trading card game. The digital sticker rights went to 2stic (DFL).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, Europe
  • Former Australian PM's Government Wanted AFL Essendon Stripped Of Points

    Former Australian PM Julia Gillard's government wanted Australian Football League side Essendon "stripped of premiership points and club employees sacked" amid growing concern Essendon "over-egged" the release of an Australian Crime Commission report into drugs in sport on the so-called "blackest day in Australian sport," according to Chip Le Grand of THE AUSTRALIAN. Revealing the "level of political involvement," former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority CEO Aurora Andruska "recounted to the Federal Court former sports minister Kate Lundy's determination to strike a deal to punish Essendon." Andruska, "the ASADA chief executive throughout the Essendon supplements saga, said she ignored political pressure on the investigation." However, she recalled a "series of meetings where Senator Lundy or government advisers made clear their desire for a quick outcome" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/13). In Sydney, Pierik & Cooper reported Andruska said media consultant David Lording "discussed the political pressure Senator Lundy would have faced to have the supplements scandal resolved, and that she would need ASADA to present the AFL with details of the anti-doping body's investigation" so the league could sanction the Bombers. Andruska: "In his (Lording's) words, 'Lundy needs something. The minister can't do anything, it's all in ASADA's court. She needs something. She needs a deal with the AFL but she can't do anything without ASADA agreeing'" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/12).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, Australia
  • National Rugby League To Form Committee To Address Problem Of Declining Crowds

    A working committee of National Rugby League clubs is being formed to "address the growing problem with scheduling amid concerns that some clubs have suffered alarming falls in crowd figures while television ratings are also down across the board," according to Stuart Honeysett of THE AUSTRALIAN. The issue of falling crowds was "highlighted again during Monday night's match between the Sydney Roosters and Gold Coast" when only 6,345 fans "braved the wet and cold at Allianz Stadium." Canterbury has been "another big loser at the gate." An average of 19,979 fans turned up last season compared with only 15,435 this year. Clubs are "bracing themselves for the situation to get worse as four Thursday-night games are scheduled to finish off the season" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/13).

    SALARY CAP PROBE: In Sydney, Brent Read reported NRL CEO Dave Smith insists COO Jim Doyle "remains the right man to preside over salary cap investi­gations" into both Brisbane and the Gold Coast, despite his "impending return to clubland with the New Zealand Warriors raising the spectre of conflicting interests." The issue is "more one of perception than reality." While "no one in the game believes the highly respected Doyle would be influenced by his future plans, some question whether his involvement is the right look for the code" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/13).

    DANGEROUS TACKLES: In Sydney, Brad Walter reported NRL referees have been "encouraged to send players off for any incident which jeopardises the safety of an opponent" after officials "expressed concern over a number of dangerous tackles in last weekend's round of matches." An NRL spokesperson said, "It has always been left to the referees' discretion to determine if a player should be put on report or sent off for a serious breach. However, the NRL is particularly concerned about dangerous incidents where player safety is put at risk, and would support any referee sending off a player in these circumstances" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/12).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, Australia
  • League Notes: Indigenous Players In National Rugby League To Create War Cry

    Indigenous National Rugby League players are "set to step up plans to have their own war cry, with Cronulla winger Jonathan Wright having been enlisted to help develop the dance." Wright, who "worked as a dance instructor after leaving school, will begin work on the Aboriginal war cry as soon his commitments with the Sharks are finished and has begun compiling video clips with some ideas before a gathering of players next month." Others, including Brisbane's Sam Thaiday, Parramatta's Luke Kelly and Melbourne's Will Chambers, have "also been asked for input" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/12). ... The Singapore Professional Golfers' Association joined the labor movement as a "National Trades Union Congress U Associate." This is the first time a sports association has "come on board the NTUC's U Associate Programme so that its members can enjoy a wide range of benefits and advocacy of the union." The link-up will "also help the SPGA's professional coaches to distinguish themselves from amateur golfers who also provide golfing lessons" (NEW PAPER, 8/12).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies
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