There have been plenty of changes for the World Series of Poker over the last two years. Much of the 2020 series moved online and now this year’s event shifts to the fall. The WSOP added a big change on Monday as well – naming CBS Sports as the series’ new broadcast partner.
Beginning this year, CBS Sports Network will be the exclusive domestic television home of the WSOP. The network announced a new multi-year rights agreement with PokerGO as its new television partner for WSOP events.
CBS will feature 15 hours of Main Event coverage and 36 hours of 18 additional gold bracelet events.
“CBS Sports has long been a pioneer in covering a broad range of championship sports,” WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said in a news release. “We couldn’t be more excited to see increased television coverage of the WSOP in the coming years and benefit from their growing media platforms.”
Details on the WSOP/CBS deal
The announcement didn’t include dollar figures or an exact number of years, but means a major change for the series. The network noted that additional coverage details will be announced in the coming months.
The full WSOP schedule is expected to be released by this summer. The deal is expected to include coverage across other ViacomCBS platforms including the company’s streaming partner Paramount+.
The agreement comes as more networks offer viewers streaming services. This has meant some interesting deals in recent months.
In January, NBC announced the acquisition of WWE Network’s programming for its own Peacock Network streaming service. The Wall Street Journal reported that the WWE would shut down its own streaming network and the deal pays the company $1 billion over five years.
The NHL recently signed a seven-year deal with ESPN, which also calls for ESPN+ and Hulu also showing exclusive games.
The WSOP news may come as a shock to many in the poker industry. ESPN has broadcast the WSOP action for more than two decades with Lon McEachern and Norman Chad calling the action.
That includes Chris Moneymaker’s historic 2003 Main Event win that helped launch the poker boom as well as other memorable moments. The WSOP struck the previous ESPN deal in 2017, but that ran out with the 2020 series.
Fans will now be shifting to another network for WSOP action beginning this year. ESPN reaches 86 million households while CBS Sports Network is available in only 61 million.
That’s a significant downgrade in number of people reached. However, the network may be hoping more hours boosts television and streaming numbers from poker fans.
Renewing a relationship between WSOP and CBS
There is a precedent of CBS broadcasting the WSOP and the new agreement rekindles a past partnership. CBS was the first network to broadcast poker in the US and the WSOP.
Main Event coverage was highlighted on the CBS Sports Spectacular program throughout the mid-1970s.
The deal also expands previous agreements between PokerGO and CBS. In past years, PokerGO offered some of its daily WSOP coverage exclusively on the previous incarnation of Paramount+, CBS All Access. PokerGO has also offered other content on CBS Sports Network.
“Following our past success with PokerGO, we are excited to expand our relationship with the highest-profile and richest event in competitive tournament poker featuring the best players in the world,” CBS Sports Executive Vice President of Programming Dan Weinberg said. “This deal fits perfectly in our strategy to combine best-in-class events with our CBS Sports brand.”
The announcement noted that the deal becomes a new high for the WSOP in regards to daily network broadcast and streaming coverage. An announcement has yet to be made about how much PokerGO will be streaming on its own platform.
However, if the service continues with its own packed schedule that should mean plenty of live poker for viewers.
The WSOP also recently announced a deep schedule of online bracelet events this summer at WSOP.com. The international partner and that schedule is also expected to be announced soon.