Why do you think it is time for a 24-hour network for surfing?
SHANNON MARIE QUIRK: It has never been done, and there is a void that needs to be filled. The lifestyle of surfing is one that is incredibly marketable to the mainstream audience. The amount of people that will be able to see these videos now will do a lot for the sport and give it the respect and the platform that it deserves.
Why was launching on VOD important?
STEVE BELLAMY: In terms of timing, there is clearly a massive migration to Video On-Demand. Every month the numbers are ticking up, and consumers are understanding how much more convenient it is to watch a show when they want to watch it as opposed to being tied down to a programming wheel. And with the next generation of very Internet-savvy, completely 100% Video On-Demand users, it’s really going to make Video On-Demand more like beachfront real estate as opposed to what it had been in the last decade, which was, you may find out about it when you accidentally trip there.
What can you do on YouTube that might not work as well on TV?
QUIRK: We launched the social networking and community first in order to create a buzz for the television network. At the same time, it is a different experience to watch it on a larger screen and in the comfort of your living room. But, with that in mind, we want to be integrating them so that the online platform contributes towards the television network and vice-versa.
What kinds of digital strategies do you have now that you wouldn’t have been able to utilize when you launched Tennis Channel in 2003 and The Ski Channel in 2008?
QUIRK: We are currently in talks about our iPhone app as a huge driving force. In addition to an app, we have been trying to use Instagram and Twitter as other resources. Foursquare is something we are also looking into and [that] The Ski Channel has used. There are just so many platforms to utilize. I do not think that the list will ever end.
What did you learn from the launch of The Ski Channel and Tennis Channel that you applied here?
BELLAMY: When you start these businesses, you raise money and you know you have a burn rate of that money and at some point in time, you have made your business work or you run out and you need more money. And I have been more prudent each time about how I manage the business.
How will The Surf Channel differ from other channels offering niche sports programming?
BELLAMY: When you look at Golf Channel, Tennis Channel, NFL, [these channels are] very much about the sport. When you get to The Surf Channel, clearly it’s a travel channel. And so I think for a lot of the people, it’s basically a free vacation. It means you’re going to get to go escape and do something that very few people in the world get to do. And so it’s really a sports channel, travel channel, adventure channel and lifestyle channel all in one. It will be different in that we are going to be very, very heavy into story and character. You can do a vignette around the Olympics, you can do a vignette around an NFL game, [where] you find some great story about a kid who grew up in a double wide and makes it out of four wheels to become an NFL superstar, and that’s awesome. You can find those needles in a haystack. The surf industry is a haystack of needles; every single person has the most amazing story on earth. It’s beyond logic. They give up their lives for this quest of riding waves.