LOS ANGELES, Calif./USA (Friday, March 9, 2018) - The World Surf League (WSL) is excited to announce new innovations, partnerships, and distribution channels ahead of the 2018 Championship Tour (CT) season. Dedicated to showcasing the world's best surfers on the world's best waves, the WSL demonstrates this commitment through the progressive investments in this year's Championship Tour and beyond.
"Our team worked hard in the off-season with the common goal of continuing to build surfing's visibility," said Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO. "We are proud to welcome great partners to the WSL family and new viewers around the globe, and we are excited to capitalize on new innovations to bring the best fan experience possible to professional surfing."
The League is excited to welcome new official partners to the WSL family in 2018, including LifeProof in North America and Australia, Boost Mobile in Australia, and Michelob ULTRA as the Presenting Partner of the first-ever Founders' Cup of Surfing, with additional partnership announcements planned in the coming weeks.
Earlier this year, the WSL announced a groundbreaking partnership with Facebook as the exclusive digital home for the top live events in surfing in 2018 and 2019, including all elite men's and women's Championship Tour events, the Qualifying Series 10,000 and Big Wave Tour events, as well as the World Junior Championships.
As part of the Partnership, fans can expect enhanced Facebook LIVE broadcast graphics, interactivity with the WSL commentators via Facebook LIVE commentating, and WSL original programming on Facebook Watch. For the first time ever, fans will experience the broadcast in Spanish, along with English and Portuguese.
In addition to its Facebook partnership, WSL has renewed linear television agreements in its core markets of USA, Brazil, Australia, France, Portugal, and Japan. The League will have television distribution for the 2018 season in over 100 countries through new and existing broadcast partners.
WSL PUTS FAN EXPERIENCE FIRST
This year's live WSL CT broadcast will introduce an array of new enhancements and innovations heading into the 2018 season. With the mission of bringing fans as close to the action as possible, the enhancements will look to provide unique and exclusive views into professional surfing.
The 2018 season will highlight the athletes, legends, and unique characters first-hand through their feedback on the commentary panel. Viewers can expect to see surfers 'on set' with the commentary team or with a VIP headset at every event to give their perspectives on the competition. Fans will also hear from the judges with daily check-ins to provide more visibility and transparency.
WSL will also feature ‘Course Maps' through the partnership with Virtual Eye. The Course Maps feature will bring each of our tours stops to life via animated graphics to not only show the location of each stop on Tour, but also the dynamics that help it produce some of the best waves in the world. In addition to this update, fans will be able to experience GPS-driven graphics and data measuring speed, air-height, and time in the barrel during the live event. The commentators will also continue to use the telestrator tool to provide deeper insights into the competitive action.
With the goal to make surfing more accessible to the public, the WSL is about to deliver a season-long campaign to educate and demystify some of the more technical and complex elements of the sport, through all WSL channels, with ten initiatives. The athletes will lift the lid on what makes this extraordinary sport so special.
NEW ON TOUR
The 2018 CT calendar will include new locations such as the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, Calif., and Keramas in Bali, Indonesia. The world's best women surfers will also join the men at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa.
For the first time ever, Championship Tour surfing will be seen on a world-class, man-made wave. With the technology designed by Kelly Slater, stadium surfing will be enjoyed live and up-close by thousands of fans at Surf Ranch in Lemoore California. In another innovation, a team-versus-team specialty event, Founders' Cup of Surfing, will take place in May, and is perfect for global broadcast with further details to follow.
Additional changes to the WSL Championship Tour include the elimination of Round 5 from men's events and Round 4 from women's events. The respective three-person rounds, which have been non-elimination up until this season, will now advance 1st and 2nd-place finishing surfers directly to the Quarterfinals with 3rd finishing 9th in the event.
The overlapping format, which allows for two heats to run simultaneously when conditions permit, has been extended to venues in Gold Coast and France to join Bells Beach, Jeffreys Bay and Pipeline where this format was already permitted.
With the focus on improving the fan and competitive experience, these changes help us to condense the length of the events and ensure that the athletes compete in the best conditions possible.
Led by reigning two-time WSL Champions John John Florence (HAW) and Tyler Wright (AUS), the first event of the 2018 WSL Championship Tour will be the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast in Australia from March 11 - 22, 2018. Fans can experience all the enhanced broadcast features via WorldSurfLeague.com, Facebook LIVE, or on the WSL app.