In a deal that will change the way professional surfing is broadcast, ESPN has announced a partnership with the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) and media/distribution partners YouTube and Facebook. The multi-year television deal, which marks the first in professional surfing's history, includes coverage of 26 events through 11 televised recap programs.
"ESPN is thrilled to be working with the ASP as the U.S. domestic television partner for professional surfing," said Tim Reed, ESPN X Games senior director, Content Strategy and Sports & Competition.
According to the ASP, it is estimated that professional surfing reaches upward of 120 million fans around the world.
"Professional surfing is a truly global sport which demands media distribution partners with significant reach," said ASP CEO Paul Speaker. "Our newly announced agreement with ESPN will provide a strong foundation for the ASP media platform. I personally believe surfing is one of the most dramatic and dynamic sports on the planet and it's an honor to work with tremendously inspirational athletes in bringing their feats and stories to the public.
"I find it very fitting that the rebirth of professional surfing in 2014 will be broadcast within the ESPN family of networks and back on ABC, as they were the first to support surfing on television back in 1962."
The ASP YouTube channel and a rebuilt ASP website will provide fans with an exclusive 3,000-plus hours of programming, including 26 live-streamed events across the men's ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), the women's ASP WCT and the ASP Big Wave World Tour (BWWT).
Facebook will be the primary social-platform partner, with the hopes of driving fan engagement via both broadcasts and connecting fans to the athletes themselves.
"We look forward to showcasing the excitement, energy and incredible skills of professional surfers touring the world under the ASP banner," added Reed. "The talent and experience that is being aggregated at the ASP make this a very exciting time for professional surfing as well as a great opportunity for ESPN to extend its X Games brand into professional surfing."
The 2013 ASP World Championship Tour is currently in Portugal for the Rip Curl Pro, which runs through Oct. 20, 2013.