AVP’s Donald Sun sets up the 2014 season and the future of volleyball

After going bankrupt in the middle of the 2010 season, the AVP Tour is now is now under the watchful eye of owner Donald Sun, who bought the famed tour two years ago, and is now readying for the 31st year of its existence. The company operated seven tournaments in 2013 and this season it will hold the same number of events, this time with recently-announced sales/operations partner IMG in tow, starting May 30 in St. Petersburg on CBS Sports Network. All seven tournaments will be shown on TV, topping the five from 2013, with both the men’s and women’s championship matches shown live. In addition, AVP will live stream all of the other matches throughout the year at AVP.com.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Sun, AVP Managing Partner, about taking on the tour, connecting with fans and his plans for keep the momentum moving forward.

Sun on his decision to buy the company: Early on, the AVP definitely looked great on TV and on site, but the motivation of the ownership was to sell it off. They got to a certain level where there was some equity value to the AVP, it was just that they couldn’t flip the company over. So they had to go and get a private investor to help fund the rest of the year. Then they changed ownership, forced the old owners out, and the new owners came in and tried to cut costs and change some things but after the middle of 2010, they decided to pull the plug. That was the big challenge that I unfortunately inherited, with all the bad feelings from the tour being stopped abruptly in 2010. The challenge for me has been to overcome the issues that happened previously.

On version 3.0: I’m not here to flip the house. I followed the AVP when I was younger and even had my own aspirations of being on the AVP Tour. But I always thought the brand resonated still with brands, media partners and fans. So now we are trying to have more organic growth. We’re not trying to overstretch. There’s no point of saying this year we are going to do seven events, and next year ten and the year after, we’ll have 12. That exhausts people. So we are trying to make sure that this is a real, sustainable business. We don’t need to expand and outreach so quickly. It doesn’t make sense. Going to locations that we can establish ourselves and making tent pole events will help create a following on both the local and national side. We won’t overpromise and under deliver. Because of that, people are coming around and we are very positive moving forward.

On media: This season you will see more live steaming, as we will be doing all day Friday and all day Saturday leading up to the finals. Last year, out of the seven events, we televised five of them. This year, it will be all seven of them with two of them being taped delay due to programming conflicts, but it will all be on CBS Sports. I think from a programming standpoint we are trying to provide more hours of content for our fans. In addition, from a content standpoint, we are making a push on the social media side. We are creating a YouTube Channel and are partnering with someone, who we haven’t announced yet, but they will help drive traffic and help us create content strategy. We are also exploring other programming that the casual person would want to tune in and watch.

On the future of the sport: Our initiative starting this year and going forward is to build that pipeline. I think that’s what’s been lacking. There’s not a clear path to being a professional AVP athlete, other than the Olympics. So, what is that? That’s why we are partnering with the Southern California Volleyball Association to create programming for kids and youth. Those are the things that we are building so kids can have an easy guide to know that first they need to do this, then they can go do that and become a professional player. I see that its growing and we would like to be a part of the sport’s trajectory.

On future stars: There isn’t a lack of talent on the AVP and growing that pipeline will only solidify that talent, not only for us but on a world scale as well. We are trying to be the breeding ground of gold medals to come.

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