Chernin Group Makes A Splash

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In the world of media, there is nothing more valuable than a passionate audience.

And it’s hard to get more passionate than the surf community – just ask those who brave brisk water temps for a solid Nor’easter swell. In New Jersey. In January.

The News: Yesterday The Chernin Group announced a $30 million investment into Wavetrak, the company behind surf forecasting site Surfline.

Shredding The Details

The 25-year-year-old, Huntington Beach Surfline has a scrappy history.  The company started as a $1.99 dial-up service where surfers could call and receive a surf forecast over the phone.

Fast forward a few decades and Surfline is a global operation:

  • With more than three million users, the site utilizes its 35-year-old data set and a team of experts to forecast surf conditions across the globe.
  • Surfline has live, HD cameras at 700+ locations and publishes award-winning editorial content.

Premium users pay $9.99 per month for access to proprietary surfing forecasts, exclusive original content, and perks like discounts on surf retailers.

The brand portfolio includes Surfline, Magicseaweed, Coastalwatch, Buoyweather, and FishTrack.  If it involves the ocean – Wavetrak has an interest.

The Strategy

For Chernin, the deal fits squarely into a pattern of niche media investments:

  • Chernin reportedly invested $25 million over two years for a controlling stake in Barstool Sports, which has since soared in value and completed a deal with Penn National Gaming.
  • It also took a majority stake last year in Food52, a home and food site, for $83 million.

Going forward the company will be led by Kyle Laughlin, a big-name hire with recent experience at Amazon and Disney.

The Takeaway: Hopefully Chernin doesn’t get wiped-out on its investment.