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Today, CBS Sports announced that it will be the new television partner for the World Series of Poker. The company has signed a multi-year agreement with PokerGO that starts with coverage of the WSOP in 2021.
Details are sparse, but the announcement states that coverage will include:
This amounts to a substantial increase in coverage of non-Main Event tournaments compared to the deal CBS replaced which was with ESPN. ESPN’s deal involved airing around 40 hours of Main Event play on ESPN/ESPN 2 plus digital streaming. However, it did not cover other events from the World Series.
While ESPN is well known for its WSOP coverage, CBS Sports has a history with the world’s most famous poker tournament series. CBS was in fact the first TV company to broadcast the Main Event back in the 1970’s.
Referring to this history, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart commented;
“CBS Sports has long been a pioneer in covering a broad range of championship sports. 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.”
More recently, in 2019 CBS partnered with PokerGo to stream WSOP coverage on its subscription channel CBS All Access. The relationship established then has blossomed into this new and much more extensive deal.
CBS states that from now on it is “the official television home of the WSOP.”
The World Series usually begins in late May. Unfortunately the COVID crisis looks like it will continue past this date, so the tournament organizers decided to postpone the start until the fall. Live events for 2021 are tentatively scheduled to begin Sep. 30 and run through to Nov. 23.
The WSOP is running a substantial series of online events in the Summer. The 33 event online WSOP begins on Jul. 1 and ends on Aug. 1 with a $500 buy-in $1 million guaranteed Grand Finale.
The online events are only for players in the New Jersey and Nevada online poker markets, although Michigan and Pennsylvania may expand the possible player pool for 2022’s events.
ESPN used Norman Chad and Lon McEachern as anchors for their Main Event coverage. The two have achieved iconic status among the poker audience. The CBS announcement made no mention of who would front their coverage. Speculation has been rampant about whether it will continue to be Chad and McEachern, or new hosts:
Another commentator suggests that the style of coverage will change:
At the moment CBS is tight-lipped about its precise plans. CBS Sports Executive Vice President of Programming, Dan Weinberg stuck to a general comment:
“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.”