What The Future Holds For Televised Poker?January 4, 2016 6:57 pm
Prior to the pocket cam’s invention, watching televised poker was about as interesting as eating oatmeal for breakfast. In 1997, advances in technology subsequently enabled viewers to see each of the player’s hole cards, and by making the game accessible to a whole new audience the televised game was thus propelled to hitherto unseen heights of popularity. During the poker boom of 2003 to 2006, for instance, televised poker even managed to attract more viewers than popular sports such as baseball. Unfortunately, nowadays the game’s intricacies have been exhaustively explained, and with much of its mystique now gone, in recent years the popularity of televised poker has faded dramatically.
During the first few years of the 2000’s, the WPT with its slick production value, entertaining commentators, and huge tournament prizes was instrumental in driving the game’s TV popularity, and even now the tour rolls on and is currently in its 14th season. Nevertheless, the TV audience the show attracts is just a fraction of what it once commanded, while the number of people tuning in to watch the 2015 WSOP Main Event was also significantly down on previous years, prompting some analysts to suggest that by 2017 the WSOP Main Event may revert to its pre-November Nine schedule.
In the meantime, once popular cash game shows such as High Stakes Poker have long since gone, as the colorful live players which once entertained audiences have been replaced by more serious, less watchable personalities. That didn’t stop Poker Central launching a dedicated TV poker network in 2015, though, with its programs including old reruns of the classic series, as well as “thousands of hours of new, fresh content.” So far its success has been limited.
Of course, the industry has been doing its utmost to reverse the trend, with innovators such as Alex Dreyfus attempting to sportify the game, and younger pros such as Jason Somerville, using Twitch.tv to reach out to a whole new generation of e-sports enthusiasts and online gamers. Nevertheless, significant hurdles remain for the future success of televised poker shows, and as Global Poker Index CEO Alex Dreyfus said whilst promoting his new poker-themed poker show called “the Cube”, either televised poker experiments and innovates, or else it faces becoming “the has-been game of the 2000’s.”