Surfline Acquires Coastalwatch in Australia
Surfline is announcing this morning that it has bought Australia-based Coastalwatch from Three Crowns Media Group.
The assets purchased include the Coastalwatch brand, coastalwatch.com, the Coastalwatch iOS and Android apps and other associated assets.
Coastalwatch is a leading Australian surf forecast and camera competitor to Surfline and Magicseaweed, which Surfline also owns. Coastalwatch has a significant audience and a network of over 100 cameras in Australia.
Together, the three brands have over 600 cameras worldwide.
Surfline said having Coastalwatch along with existing brands and teams under one roof will enable more aggressive investment in product development for the benefit of surfers globally. Surfline believes brand and advertiser partners will also benefit from the scale and technology that the global platform provides.
The Coastalwatch team will remain in Australia and work closely with the Surfline crew out of Surfline’s Huntington Beach headquarters.
Surfline Owner and CEO Jeff Berg answered a few questions for us about the deal.
In the early days, did Surfline envision the company growing into a global player like this?
Jeff Berg: I’m not 100% sure what Sean (Founder Sean Collins) had in mind in the very early days. But when I got involved in 2000, we were definitely thinking about providing surfers in overseas markets with forecasts and ultimately, camera views. Dave Gilovich was negotiating a camera location in Costa Rica back in those days so it was part of the DNA.
But it was the case then, and remains so today, that the main focus for the brands is through organic growth, even though we’ve been acquisitive when the opportunity has presented itself.
Tell about the thinking behind keeping the Magicseaweed and Coastalwatch brand names intact rather than changing everything to Surfline?
Jeff Berg: We believe that people get used to certain user experiences and brands in the digital realm. We’ve learned at Surfline that sometimes just changing a few pixels on the website generates an amazing amount of complaints.
The habit that users form with a good digital experience and brand turns into trust and loyalty. We’ve always had a lot of respect for that, even in smaller local and regional brands.
So if something’s working, why mess with that loyalty and trust? That’s not to say we’d never integrate down the road, but our experience to date is that these audiences frequent these digital properties for a lot of different reasons.
How will Coastalwatch be integrated into the company? What sort of services/functions can be shared?
Jeff Berg: We’re excited to integrate Coastalwatch’s back end into the larger company, to work off of a unified technology and operational platform, and to deliver a really good user experience around cameras, forecasts and data, in addition to offering great editorial.
There’s a lot of shared services we can leverage to help that team in different ways.
How will this acquisition benefit Surfline’s brand partners?
Jeff Berg: It gives them more qualified audiences and a single source ability to run targeted campaigns in the major English speaking surf markets.
It’s been nearly two years since Surfline bought Magicseaweed in Europe. Are there any key learnings in that process that you will apply to the Coastalwatch acquisition?
Jeff Berg: From the beginning with MSW, we did not try to impose some grand strategic plan on them. Instead, we focused on harvesting some of the tactical wins we saw and concentrated on improving financial fundamentals.
Over time as we better understood the product and audience, we became more strategic about positioning the brand as part of a portfolio.
That has served us well so far and we’ll take a similar approach with Coastalwatch.