Poker Central has acquired the global television and digital media rights for the World Series of Poker.
Poker Central and ESPN have reached an agreement and together will oversee live* televised coverage and original episodes throughout the year. The arrangement marks the first time ESPN will air same-day coverage of the WSOP from Day 1 of the Main Event to the conclusion of the final table. The model of coverage has been agreed upon for a period of four years.
"ESPN has been our home since 2002 and we’re delighted to extend the relationship into the next decade," said Ty Stewart, executive director WSOP. "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 tournament will once again play out in the summer. The final will be three days long, playing out July 20-22.
With the signing of the agreement, some changes have been announced for the 2017 WSOP. Most notably is the doing away with the concept of the November Nine.
Since 2008, in an effort to build excitement and increase ratings for the tape-delayed televised shows, the organizers of the WSOP and ESPN decided to delay the final table until November. This way, ESPN was in the position to have the final table following the televised shows without the viewers knowing who had won in advance.
"The World Series of Poker has been a longstanding staple of ESPN programming," said Dan Ochs, director of programming and acquisitions. "ESPN We are pleased to reach an agreement to continue to carry the sport’s most prominent event and modernize our coverage with the new same day live coverage throughout July each year."
Jeffrey Pollack, commissioner of the World Series of Poker at the time, is widely credited for pushing the new concept.
Now, starting with the 2017 WSOP, the tournament will once again play out in the summer. Prior to 2008, the event played out without any days off. Now, a two-day hiatus is built into the schedule; July 18 and 19 will be days off for the final nine players. The final will be three days long.
With this new agreement, ESPN will broadcast an estimated 40 hours of live* WSOP Main Event coverage. On top of that, the worldwide leader in sports, commits to original packaged shows totaling 130 hours annually. Coverage not aired by ESPN will be streamed exclusively through Poker Central's digital distribution channels.
"We are thrilled to add the preeminent poker brand, the World Series of Poker, to our growing portfolio of poker-related content," said JR McCabe, chief digital officer Poker Central. "We have major plans to reinvent the WSOP offering to greatly expand how, when and where fans of the game of poker can watch and engage with the game."
The planned schedule of WSOP live coverage on Poker Central/ESPN/ESPN2 in 2017 will look as follows (all times ET):
|July 8||4 PM - 8 PM||ESPN2||Day 1a|
|July 9||2 PM - 6 PM||ESPN2||Day 1b|
|July 10||TBD||Poker Central||Day 1c|
|July 11||8 PM - 11 PM||ESPN||Day 2a/2b|
|July 12||8 PM - 10 PM||ESPN||Day 2c|
|July 13||TBD||Poker Central||Day 3|
|July 14||8 PM - 11 PM||ESPN2||Day 4|
|July 15||2 PM - 4 PM||ESPN2||Day 5|
|July 16||2 PM - 6 PM||ESPN2||Day 6|
|July 17||7 PM - 9 PM||ESPN2||Day 7|
|July 19||10 PM - 11 PM||ESPN2||Final Table Preview Show|
|July 20||9 PM - TBD||ESPN2||Day 8: Nine to Six Players|
|July 21||9 PM - TBD||ESPN||Day 9: Six to Three Players|
|July 22||9 PM - TBD||ESPN||Day 10: Three Players to Winner|
Poker Central is planning a comprehensive live streaming schedule for the 2017 World Series of Poker and will announce further details prior to the start of the WSOP in late May.
*30 minute delay per gaming regulations