Changes are afoot in regards to the World Series of Poker brand. As the WSOP gears up for the 48th running of the ever-popular poker tournament series, a few changes have been announced. A new four-year broadcast and digital agreement has been signed by the brand which includes ESPN and Poker Central. The WSOP has also decided to do away with the November Nine format and see the Las Vegas final table of the Main Event finish out in July instead of months later in November.
On Monday, Poker Central sent out a press release which provided details of the new agreement with the WSOP. Poker Central has now acquired the digital media and global television rights to the poker event. Hosted by the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino, the series will see Poker Central working with ESPN after an agreement was reached to see the event broadcast from the first day of the Main Event until the final table concludes. Regulatory restrictions are in place so the footage will be on a 30-minute tape delay.
With the new agreement, ESPN and ESPN2 will be broadcasting around 40 hours of poker game play from July 8th until the 17th. Final table players will face off on July 18th and 19th for the Main Event with game play resuming on the 20th and a winner named by July 22nd. ESPN will provide 130 hours of coverage for the Main Event a year and any coverage that does not air on ESPN will be streamed via the distribution channels of Poker Central.
Ty Stewart, the World Series of Poker Executive Director, commented on the new deal by stating that ESPN has been the home of the WSOP since 2002 and they are delighted to be able to extend their relationship into the next decade. Stewart stated further that having live coverage of the Main Event every day is a huge commitment from ESPN and Poker Central and the WSOP looks forward to delivering wall-to-wall action to their faithful audience.
As far as deciding to stop the November Nine format, the decision was based on the commitment by ESPN to provide more live coverage. Caesars Interactive Entertainment and WSOP Vice President of Corporate Communications, Seth Palansky, commented that they have found live poker works and it made sense to have a two day delay instead of the 100 day delay for the final table. The November dates also conflicted with the Sunday night football coverage at ESPN so rescheduling the event to July helps to provide better coverage for the WSOP event and less competition.