The World Surf League (WSL) has announced a new rights deal with international sports broadcasting heavyweight ESPN covering its Champions Tour events in 2024.
The deal will see the broadcaster air all 10 Champions Tour events during the year, starting with the Lexus Pipe Pro in Hawaii, running from January 29 to February 10, as well as the WSL qualifying event – the US Open of Surfing – on its streaming service ESPN+.
As part of its package, the broadcaster will also air 11 episodes of WSL: Inside Pro Surfing, a Champions Tour-focused docuseries, on its ESPN2 linear channel.
Tim Reed, ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions, said: “Distributing the WSL Champions Tour live events rights on ESPN+ provides our audiences full access to the premier surf tour, where the top men and women will compete for the championship crown at legendary surf spots all over the world.
“The WSL CT is a great addition to the platform and live competitive surfing will fit well alongside an already significant content offering. We look forward to kicking off the season in Hawaii next week.”
The new rights deal comes as the sport looks to widen its audience in the US after securing its first betting data deal with ALT Sports Data last April and entering into a partnership with the highly regarded Box to Box Films production company to create its ‘Make or Break’ docuseries on AppleTV+.
Cherie Cohen, WSL chief revenue officer, said: “Working with ESPN this season is a fantastic opportunity to bring the sport to more viewers and new audiences across different platforms in the United States.
“They are the biggest name in sports content in the USA, and this agreement offers us the opportunity to share surfing with the millions of subscribers across their digital properties as well as on linear television.”
Along with ESPN, WSL has secured wide coverage worldwide for the coming season through two major rights deals.
Earlier this month, WSL expanded its broadcast partnership with major Australian pay-TV network Foxtel, which will air the entirety of the 2024 WSL season, which runs intermittently from January 29 through to September 14 on its main channel, as well as on the Kayo Sports streaming service, which Foxtel owns.
All events will also be aired in Australia free-to-air through a deal with commercial broadcaster Seven.
Brazilian TV network Globo will also cover WSL events as part of a three-year deal struck in 2021, while Warner Bros. Discovery will air the Inside Pro Surfing docuseries on its Eurosport pan-European broadcaster and livestream all Championship Tour events on its Discovery+ streaming service.