Fresh rumours of an impending pay wall that might separate spectators from viewing the WSL webcasts have surfaced once again.
While speculation around the topic has been rife for months now, the fire was stoked with the recent appointment of a new ‘chief strategy officer’, Joseph Carr, who was instrumental in implementing the UFC’s pay monthly viewer pass.
“I see a ton of parallels between both companies and am leaving for the same set of challenges that attracted me to the UFC,” Joe told Stab ahead of a press release, which was released this morning and detailed Joe’s appointment, mentioning his “groundbreaking achievements in driving the growth of UFC’s global business.” WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt added that Joe would bring with him a “deep experience of developing and executing international growth strategies”
Currently the WSL funds the tour and the webcasts through advertising, merch and media rights. Yet you don’t need a degree in business studies to figure out that the returns from these revenue streams aren’t sufficient to cover the price of putting on a comp estimated to cost between three and five million dollars (just for the men’s division). Accordingly, some sort of pay per view seems inevitable going forward, unless a drastically different form of generating revenue suddenly presents itself.
There’s no news as yet on the amount of money that might be charged, and it’s certainly going to be a tricky one to pitch. What might seem amazing value to a bloke in Sydney paying 400 dollars a week rent would seem utterly ridiculous to a bloke in Brazil who could dine out for a month on that.
Also, the tour faces logistical challenges the UFC has never had to contend with; is anyone really likely to pay before they know what the waves are doing? Or if they’ve no idea when the event is even going to run?
Will the companies who sponsor the events still be a fixture? Our guess is that they won’t be too stoked about (inevitable) plummeting viewer figures, and the people paying might not be up for paying to get advertised at either.
The press release also mentions the further integration of the Kelly Slater wave pool company into the WSL, fuelling speculation there is an event being planned there before the end of the year- perhaps planned as the perfect way to launch the new pay wall format.
The list of questions on how exactly it would all work is endless, but while there are details to be ironed out, ultimately the only one that matters is whether you, the spectator, would really pay to watch the comps?
Let us know in the comments!
Cover photo: @lugarts