The WSL is currently on the hunt for its next CEO, following the abrupt dismissal of Erik Logan mid-year, mid-event. While I believe Erik Logan did a commendable job as CEO, I see three crucial areas that demand focus to catapult the sport and audience growth to new heights.
1. Tour Innovation
Kudos to Erik Logan for introducing two game-changing elements to the tour format: the mid-year cut and the Finals.
The mid-year cut has proven to keep athletes engaged and pushing their limits. To maximize audience momentum through the Finals, I would increase the value of events in the second half of the year, awarding more points to athletes.
Expand the wave pool events to more locations, providing a predictable schedule and location that fans can rely on, something the traditional tour will never accomplish due to the natural weather patterns. This will push geographic boundaries, as well as progressive maneuvers in the sport.
Collaboration with the athletes is essential to make this a reality.
2. Communication & Storytelling
To widen the sport’s appeal beyond the core fans, we must simplify our language during broadcasts. Complex jargon like “shredding” or “bashing the lip” alienates non-endemic viewers. The focus should be on better connecting with the audience, sharing compelling athlete stories, and creating original content.
By continuing to invest in select original content like Make or Break on Apple TV, WSL can attract new fans and convert them into avid followers of live events. This is akin to Drive to Survive and 24/7.
3. Digital Transformation
A premium digital experience is the lifeblood of the Tour and storytelling, and it’s time for a complete overhaul. Current digital infrastructure falls short of meeting the user and fan expectation and I would make this my top priority.
The WSL’s imperative lies in accommodating fans across diverse time zones, enabling effortless catch-up on missed live events by way of recaps, replays, and highlights, particularly during event lay-days. Embracing this responsibility will propel them to new heights of engagement and global reach.
Surfing is a lifestyle—a devotion to checking local conditions and seizing every opportunity when the stars align. To revolutionize the digital experience, I would acquire Surfline—a move that would integrate their extensive camera network and forecasting tools seamlessly into a single platform. This empowers fans with a singular, authoritative digital hub to stay immersed in the world of surfing, while laying a rock-solid foundation for expanding strategic partnerships with Apple and/or other influential entities.
Without a digital rebuild, the WSL shackle themselves, rendering connection with users feeble and needlessly restricting potential.