Poker Central has acquired the global broadcast rights for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) for the next four years. The rights will include both television and digital streaming of the WSOP events.
Additionally, the company has signed a deal with ESPN the official broadcast partner for WSOP for live coverage and also for original episodes.
This is the first time that ESPN will provide same-day coverage of the WSOP starting from Day 1 of the Main Event to the final table.
In a statement Ty Stewart, executive director WSOP said
ESPN has been our home since 2002 and we’re delighted to extend the relationship into the next decade. Having every day live coverage of the WSOP Main Event is truly a huge commitment on behalf of ESPN and Poker Central and we look forward to delivering to our faithful audience wall-to- wall action from the outset for the very first time.
The new arrangement has resulted in alterations to the WSOP structure. One of the biggest is that the concept of the ‘November Nine‘ has been done away with. Since 2008, the final table of the Main Event has been delayed to November in order to allow TV viewers to enjoy televised games without having advance knowledge of the winner.
Discussing the new model, Stewart pointed out that viewing preferences had changed since 2008 and the WSOP had to consider the increasing popularity of social and digital media. According to the agreement signed, ESPN will be broadcasting nearly 40 hours of live WSOP Main Event coverage. Furthermore, the broadcast partner has agreed to develop original shows for 130 hours per year. Any coverage not handled by ESPN will be streamed via Poker Central's digital distribution channels.
Dan Ochs, director of programming and acquisitions of ESPN said that he was pleased with the agreement as it would allow modernize ESPN’s reporting with same-day coverage of WSOP games. This year, the WSOP Main Event will be held between July 8 and 17.
Under the new arrangement the 2017 WSOP the tournament series would be wrapped up in summer with a two-day break before the final table convenes. This year the break will be on July 18 and 19 after which the three-day long final table will kick off. While some pokers pros welcomed the move, others highlighted that the tough schedule could cause tiredness for players though it was good for spectators.