WSOP to take over the Televised Poker World

Posted by James Guill on May 13, 2011 Posted in TV Poker, WSOP News | No Comments »

Last Wednesday, Tony G gave an interview on QuadJacks Radio discussing the situation revolving around Full Tilt and UB returning player funds.  During that interview, the topic of the future of poker Television was discussed.  Tony made an interesting point when he stated that the future of poker on TV is the internet.  If Tony G is right, then Caesars Entertainment and the World Series of Poker is staking their claim on the online TV poker market with their expanded coverage this summer of the 2011 WSOP.

A week ago, the announcement was made that the WSOP was going to provide coverage of the Main Event, $50,000 Poker Players Championship, and the WSOP Grudge Matches live, and that some of the Main Event would include live hole cards.  This move sparked both applause and controversy from around the poker world and had people talking.

Some companies would be happy to rest on their laurels, but not the WSOP.  On Wednesday, they announced that each and every final table of the 2011 World Series of Poker would be broadcast online on a five minute delay.  The main differences between these broadcasts and the ones of the Main Event, etc are that they will be broadcast on WSOP.com without hole cards, and there will be no play-by-play announcer.  Essentially, the broadcast will mimic what fans actually watching the final tables at the Rio experience.

At first glance, this would seem too much too soon.  However, with the huge gap in Televised Poker that has been left after several poker programs have been dropped, the WSOP has set themselves up as the #1 Televised poker program this summer.  For 43 out of 48 days from June 2nd until July 19th, the WSOP will be broadcast, and each day will provide new programming.  This has never happened in the history of poker.

Broadcast of non-Main Event final tables have been done in the past, but they were done in a sequestered rooms and access to the broadcasts were limited to those that had ESPN360.  They also were not every day of the WSOP.

During the 2011 WSOP Conference Call, I asked the panel of Ty Stewart, Seth Palansky, and Jack Effel whether this sudden push to broadcast every day of the Main Event was in response to April 15th.  Their response to me was the these plans were “discussed” prior to 4-15.  Read into that what you will, but it seems to me that the WSOP saw an opportunity and decided to seize it.

For those of you wondering what monetary benefit that the WSOP could gain from these broadcasts, remember that they can still control advertising on the website hosting the feeds, as well as insert ads into the broadcasts themselves during commercials, or even during the stream.  Also, the added PR that will bring the WSOP will be worth its weight in gold.

Fans know what it is like to watch the final table of the Main Event and selected events in the past.  Now they can be there every day of the Main Event as each and every champion will be crowned.  They will find out that not every event is a super-sized field and will see what it takes to win a bracelet in something other than Hold’em.

Heading into the WSOP, I wondered what Jack Effel and company were going to do in order to capture the countries imagination and recapture some of what may have been lost on April 15th.  Essentially, what they will do this summer is take over the Televised poker world for nearly six weeks online.  The brand will emerge stronger, more popular, and in my opinion experience even further growth through 2012.

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