World Surf League Benefits From Tweaking Facebook Rights Deal
The World Surf League signed an exclusive two-year digital distribution deal with Facebook in January '18, but the WSL "ended that deal’s exclusivity" a year early and has "seen its audience around the world grow," according to Tim Peterson of DIGIDAY. WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said that the number of viewers tuning into the live broadcasts of the WSL’s professional surfing competitions online and on TV has "increased by more than 25% compared to last year." That viewership increase "appears to be less a referendum on Facebook’s live-streaming service, which the WSL continues to use to broadcast its events on a non-exclusive basis, and more an indication of how the league has worked to broaden its content and distribution mix" in '19. The WSL has "expanded its TV footprint from 20 countries last year to more than 135 countries this year." That expansion "includes a deal with Fox Sports in the U.S. to air more than 500 hours of programming, including live contests," on FS2 as well as the Fox Sports app. The WSL’s decision to no longer exclusively stream its contests through Facebook Live "signals how nascent the social network’s live-streaming technology remains, especially for a sports league with a global audience" (DIGIDAY.com, 6/14).