The WSL officially announced on 24th May its agreement to acquire a majority stake in KS Wave Co. Whilst perhaps unexpected, this does not come as a huge surprise to many. Kelly’s business network is intricately linked to that of the WSL, given ZoSea Media (the group which bought the ASP in 2013) was headed by Terry Hardy (Kelly’s long time manager) and Paul Speaker (previous Quiksilver board member and current WSL CEO). In the business of sports and entertainment, Content is King, and in the world of surfing, the king of the content is the WSL (by poetic coincidence the king of surfing is also Kelly). The WSL purchase of KSWaveCo means that Kelly’s pools gain the best content on the market, which will help significantly boost revenues for surf parks, and help sell more of his pools (we have always focussed heavily on designing our venues to be event-ready, precisely for this reason). Conversely, contests held in Wave Pools also turn the conventional surfing event model on its head. Today events take significant time and huge cost to set up, and then generate little revenue as they don’t charge ticketing, don’t generate F&B sales, poorly exploit retail and suffer on broadcasting due to the unpredictable nature of the waves, aside from often being in remote locations far from the spending masses. With wave pools, this model is turned on its head: a well-designed venue can be plug and play, meaning instead of months of set-up time and cost for an event, this can be ready within half a day, saving a huge amount of cost; on the revenue side, a well-designed venue means ticketing revenues, huge F&B revenues (an integral part of any event experience and revenue stream), better opportunities to exploit retail, side events and VIP services, and lucrative live broadcasting rights based on pre-set times for finals (which in turn brings in more sponsorship revenue), as well as the possibility to host it in the middle of the worlds biggest cities. So it should come as no surprise that these two heavy weights have teamed up in what is ultimately a mutually beneficial agreement that will help push wave pools and grow professional surfing. The only question now is when the first WSL sanctioned event will be held in a wave pool, and where.
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