What is the why?

Since Kelly Slater’s announcement that he was leaving Quiksilver, rumour has run riot about the Association of Surfing Professional’s audience numbers; the makeup of the audience; the actual lack of interest shown by virtually anybody about anything in professional surfing other than what is spoonfed.

Except rumours haven’t run riot. Rumours ran riot about April Fools Day and then everyone argued about the Kering Group for a while. Then Lennox Hillbilly, twitter not-troll-but-for-clarity-for-the-ASP-troll, started agitating for surf journalism to expose what is really happening.



Actually he’s been asking about the audience numbers and who the audience is for a while now.



When Kelly Slater came up again, battling against Monsanto on Instagram, Rottmouth happened to ask why it took Cori Schumacher to discover it and then, that it was discovered after a week. Nobody in the ASP audience was onto it. Why?


This is the same question people ask of professional surfing. Why do people care? Or in the case of surfing, why do they not? Why do people watch? Or not? Why do I bother advocating for equality for female professional surfers when others believe it’s better to ditch the whole ASP format into the ocean? (Or a Monsanto parking lot.) Sadly, this question isn’t answered in the FAQ.

It’s also the same question some people ask as vision statements. Some people ask why some organisations do a lot better than others. And a white guy, probably with a tonne of privilege, (kind of like the ASP I guess) got invited to do a TED talk on how he’d codified why some organisations were in the lead when others were tracking out the same tired marketing strategies and unconvincing arguments.



The Golden Circle is Simon Sinek’s idea about how organisations use ineffective rationale to try to sell their organisation or products to consumers. He states that often organisations focus on the what: We make good computers. We make money. We have an audience. They then focus on the how: We have great design. We sell products through sexualising our athletes. We put the best surfers on the best waves. And then they get to the why. He says it should be the other way around. You need a convincing why and making money is just a by product of that vision.

Why do you do it, ASP? What is the why? The absolute vision? Many would answer money.

In Maori culture there is a whakatauki or proverb that says:

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!

This is my ethos and my reason for doing what I do. People are important to me, as is the planet. I want a better world, and justice, and peace. But I can’t fathom the ASP. It seems that they want people, people, people, but only for money, money, money.

Previously I spent two posts discussing research on equality that centred on efforts by the UN to use sport to develop communities. I see that effort happening outside of the World Tour format, but it isn’t so apparent in the industry. Everyone arguing about anything in the ASP format brings up money. And then audience. Any time you try to agitate for change, these are the two big barriers we have to climb to see what’s on the other side.

Here is approximately a few minutes of research I did to check up what is going on when people estimate audience:

This guide basically got you to look at how the cost was estimated for running an event.

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This article basically says webcasts have a shrinking problem. It says effective estimates are important because if you pay too little, you run out of bandwidth, and if you pay too much, you’re paying for bandwidth that isn’t used.

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I downloaded this article which is a decade old because it was about running webcasts in Australia and it basically didn’t see a future in them. Hmm. Maybe, maybe not. Other sources say online broadcasting and events have a brilliant future and are gaining momentum.

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Essentially, my understanding is that having huge audience numbers attracts sponsors but also leaves you paying for bandwidth. So the contracts with ESPN and YouTube might simplify the process of estimating audience because then you do have the option say, of having the extra bandwidth if you need it.

The ASP has previously said that it has a 50/50 split between male and female audience members. I’m not a surf journalist so I don’t have access to that sort of information. I’m sure someone has already written an article about this and I should find it and link it here later. I will try. This really is just a stupid surf blog.

I tried these articles:
Van’s Webcast 2013
3.9 million Dec 2013
3.5 million
6 million 10.4 million whatever somewhere in between 2011
Ahem. I can say personally I’ve logged in, logged out, changed devices, got bored, come back later… I’m really interested in how that last article broke down the information to first time viewers etc.

I looked up other stuff though. Like this article from 2008 that says the demographic of surfers, who actually surf, is 80% male and young; that they influence the purchases of the whole family; that they can be tough to market to but are worth influencing because they influence non-surfers.That is actual surfers, rather than perhaps audience. The trend seems to be to get non-surfers to watch.

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Actually it has taken me a while to read this and I’m still not sure that I’ll ever get information I can depend on. Here is my less than extensive research on why audience numbers might not be accurate:

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So I went to Twitter:

Which told me a hell of a lot more. Although Surf Media Truths is an anonymous account not officially aligned to the ASP, they’ve been keeping a close eye on events and numbers. You might as well scroll through their feed in the meantime because that’s what I’d be doing if I was you.

EDIT: Surf Media Truths has provided a comprehensive 28 minutes worth of research for you. [View the story “ASP Audience Numbers” on Storify]

This is all rumour and conjecture, obviously. If you go to this article with the ASP press release you can read all the doublespeak about why the ASP is doing all this and maybe get further than I can. It was all brand this, brand that, and using social media essentially for buying audience. The ASP is with Facebook because they can use your profile to sell you to advertisers (who want to sell to your friends and family). You are a great audience to use because when you are bored with the actual surf event you’ll be on social media drumming up statistics for advertising to sell you something.

So there you have it, basically. I’ve come up with nothing. We’re doing the ASP for nothing, I think. Just a bunch of dudes and girls with surfboards being exploited so the rest of us can buy something. And we’re all mindlessly going along with it.