Televised and streamed poker remains a key indicator as to the state of the game. Throw in online streaming and services like PokerGO, and it appears poker is in a good media place.
The World Poker Tour has now added to its television footprint with potential to expose the tour and game to even more viewers. On Jan. 14 the company announced a distribution deal to air the tour’s programming in syndication.
The new agreement adds 15 million homes in the US that can now view WPT programming.
Continued programming helps drive poker growth
Televised events like the WPT and World Series of Poker propelled the game into what it has become today. The WPT is now shown around the world and on FOX Sports regional networks in the US. The WPT also expanded into Latin America in 2019 and continues to grow into other countries.
The tour also has a significant presence online and on streaming services like Pluto TV, where it has its own channel. This latest syndication deal adds even more exposure to poker fans in the US market.
The new syndication deal begins with Season XII and XIII. WPT director of ad sales and distribution Loc Sondheim said those seasons are among the best in WPT history.
Those seasons featured wins by: Anthony Zinno, Jared Jaffee, Tony Dunst, James Calderaro, Chris Moorman, James Carroll, JC Tran, Darren Elias, and Brian Altman.Could the deal expand to other cities?
“Yes, definitely,” Sondheim told USPoker.
“We know we have a strong audience across the US and want to give our fan base more content with easy access. With this being over-the-air to anyone at any time, a viewer can turn on their TVs and rely on their local stations to air amazing poker action.”
Adding major markets to the WPT lineup
The new WPT deal includes 22 markets across the country including outlets in major cities like Los Angeles, Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and, fittingly, Las Vegas. The syndication airings begin Jan. 6 with the Bicycle Casino’s Legends of Poker event from Season XII.
The tour is now in its 18th season and syndication offers a chance to connect with new fans via its past seasons and programming.
“WPT is moving forward into the new decade with more widespread distribution than ever,” WPT Studios Vice President Johnny McMahon said, “and this syndication deal is the tip of the iceberg for our global offerings across linear TV and OTT [over the top – meaning streaming-type services and offerings].”
This is the first time the WPT has aired in syndication and part of an effort to reach fans with more media options than ever.
“Traditionally, we’ve been very focused on showcasing the WPT on cable and satellite packages, but with the many different ways people now watch TV it was necessary to offer the WPT on syndication to reach the masses,” Sondheim added.
“On top of that, with the rise and popularity of poker across all age ranges we wanted to distribute our shows where it made sense – syndication was definitely the cherry on top. With us in syndication, we will be able to hit a majority of the US in major regions with absolutely no barrier of entry and cost to a viewer, and who doesn’t like free? We wanted to make it easy on our fans to find and give them as much as possible.”
Poker and televised poker continue to grow
That online poker site recently made some news by offering a $1 million bonus opportunity for its players. Any player who qualifies for a WPT Main Tour event and then wins it will take home an extra seven figures.
As online poker grows in the US and around the world, poker programming seems to be on the uptick as well. The deal seems to show that trend continues as does the growth of poker around the world.
“Poker is growing exponentially,” Sondheim said. “With over three million hours of WPT watched a month, it’s obvious that people love to put on our show and learn from the pros. People can also rely on the WPT for high-quality, exciting action.
“We are extremely grateful for the growing poker community and continue to put out these amazing shows because we want to welcome everyone into the WPT family. With us in syndication, we will now be able to share this passion on a daily basis through local channels. This is a win for everyone and we’re excited to expand out even more.
Here’s a look at the cities and station affiliates included:
|Salt Lake City||KUTV/KMYU/KJZZ|
|Honolulu||Hawaii TV Channel 4.3|
|Monterey-Salinas||KOTR MyTV 11|
|La Crosse-Eau Claire||WKBT|