The World Surf league is basically the surfer’s equivalent to the MLB or the NFL. Until now, it’s been hard for fans to get a good image of the surfers on TV, and it’s obviously not always practical or possible to go to the beach and watch in person.
Recently, the World Surf League has started using drones in their broadcasting to get better viewpoints and to encourage the growth of the surfing fan base. They first started experimenting with technology by having reporters with waterproof cameras and microwaves stand on the sideline, but now they’ve upgraded to drones, specifically the DJI Inspire 1 Drone, because that kind doesn’t easily get blown away by winds. It records footage from the air and also includes an extra drone to replace itself if the original runs out of battery.
Footage is taken from the drones in the air above the surfers in the ocean and is incorporated into live broadcasts immediately- it doesn’t need to be uploaded and then broadcasted in separate steps. This is time efficient makes it easier for the broadcast managers.
This is a huge step for the industry of the WSL, because it opens up more opportunities for publicity and the spread of business. They even created an app that lets you watch live streams of surf competitions, set up alerts that tell you when competitions are gonna start, and create a fantasy surf lineup with different famous surfers. They launched it in March, and as of last week, it already has 500,000 downloads.
They’re planning to advance into the technological world even more, by creating a “Virtual Water Lab” that gives fans a 360-degree view of surf competitions by using virtual reality headsets ad 360-degree cameras. With this, fans watching from miles away can get the perspective of someone sitting on the beach or event the surfer himself.
There’s an ethical issue that comes along with this: some geographical locations have government regulations that don’t allow drone use, so drones aren’t available for every broadcast. Should the WSL try to negotiate with these governments to try to keep advancing their business and enterprise? Should the WSL offer to pay a tax or compensation for allowing the drones?