ESPN, Poker Central Release Preliminary WSOP Coverage Schedule

Bart Shirley February 14, 2019 1630 Reads

ESPN and Poker Central have released the first draft of their planned broadcast schedule for the 2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP). The plan includes coverage of each day of the 50th annual Main Event on ESPN itself.

Here are the announced coverage dates for the Main Event:

Date Time Network Event
July 3, 2019 8:30 PM - 2:00 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 1A
July 4, 2019 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 1B
July 5, 2019 8:00 PM - 12:30 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 1C
July 6, 2019 6:00 PM - 10:30 PM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 2AB
July 7, 2019 2:30 PM - 6:00 PM ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 2C
July 8, 2019 10:00 PM - 2:00 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 3
July 9, 2019 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 4
July 10, 2019 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 5
July 11, 2019 12:30 AM - 2:00 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 6
July 12, 2019 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 7
July 12, 2019 11:00 PM - 2:00 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 7 (Play to Final Table)
July 14, 2019 10:00 PM – TBD ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 8 (Nine to Six Players)
July 15, 2019 10:00 PM – TBD ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 9 (Six to Three Players)
July 16, 2019 9:00 PM – TBD ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 10 (Three Players to Winner)

Altogether, ESPN plans to show at least 130 hours of coverage during the event, which includes 90 hours of produced content and at least 40 hours of poker action. Poker Central’s PokerGO will offer additional coverage that ESPN does not broadcast.

“For the third-straight year, Poker Central and ESPN will deliver expansive coverage of the WSOP Main Event to a continually growing audience across multiple platforms,” said Poker Central Chief Digital Officer JR McCabe, in a statement. “We, again, look forward to bringing poker’s pinnacle event to fans around the world.”

Both WSOP and ESPN management echoed McCabe’s statements. Both stressed how essential the coverage is to both groups.

The plan is part of an ongoing partnership between ESPN and Poker Central. PokerGO will also broadcast several other WSOP bracelet events through its streaming service.

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The WSOP has more tournaments than ever

PokerGO will have plenty of options to choose from for its broadcasts. This year’s WSOP figures to be one of its biggest versions.

Certainly, there are more events this year than ever before. The 80 events that WSOP has announced will eclipse last year’s high mark of 78.

Of course, the plethora of events means that PokerGO can take its pick for the ones with the most intrigue. However, not everyone thinks that more events mean a better World Series of Poker.

In fact, Marty Derbyshire said as much last month. He cautioned Series’ brass against watering down the value of poker’s most prestigious prize, the WSOP bracelet.

Another concern for the tournament’s managers should be the potential for cannibalization. As WSOP adds more events each year, it becomes increasingly possible that the numbers of entrants in each tournament could begin to decline.

Quite frankly, the amount of money in each player’s pocket is usually finite. Except for top professionals, most people have to weigh their alternatives to stretch their poker dollar as far as it will go.

In other words, it’s not clear that the prizes for the events will continue to see an incremental gain. It’s possible to see that numbers are declining in several tournaments already.

Take the Big One for One Drop. The $1 million buy-in tournament’s field has shrunk by almost 50 percent since its inaugural version in 2012, from 48 runners to 27 last year.

The trend is not merely confined to high-roller tournaments, either. The first year for the Colossus yielded the largest live poker tournament field in history — 22,374 people put down $565 to play.

Last year, only 13,070 people threw their hats in the ring. It was still a gigantic tournament, but nothing like its progenitor.

Of course, there are several reasons that these events could be seeing player pool declines. However, it is not hard to imagine that additional events would stretch players’ budgets thinner each year.

The Main Event remains healthy

Nevertheless, the crown jewel of the series looks to be in good shape, regardless of the additional tournaments added. The WSOP Main Event drew its second-largest field in history last year, with 7,874 people coughing up the famous $10,000 buy-in.

The field size was the latest in a three-year uptick in the Main Event’s field. It was also the second consecutive year the player pool exceeded 7,000 players.

So, there’s no telling what this year’s edition will bring. Let’s hope that WSOP management hasn’t pushed past the tipping point for drawing solid player pools for each tournament.

After all, few things are prized if they’re easily obtained. A gold WSOP bracelet shouldn’t be something everyone has.

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