The truth about WSOP & WPT media rights

I just read Daniel Negreanu’s blog about exclusive coverage deals in poker. Daniel has some very good points.
It all actually started last year. In 2006 WSOP CardPlayer got exclusive coverage rights. PokerNews had to sit out in 2006 and we did everything we could to get the rights in 2007, which we did. PokerNews was the most global company, and we could pay the most. But our exclusive rights were NOT honored. Yes, an apology was made but this type of media infringement stings.

Do I agree with exclusive rights in poker?? NO! NO! NO! This is bad and I hope this stops but as long as the companies who control the rights are going to do it this way, we will compete for the rights if we are given a chance to do so.

At the end of August 2007 the WPT announced that CardPlayer had won the rights to WPT live reporting. PokerNews was never given the opportunity to bid for these rights. No one called, no one asked. Nothing! They just gave it to CardPlayer.

We would have competed for that deal. Maybe we would have paid more then anyone else, and more important is the fact that PokerNews covers poker in 30 languages including Japanese, even two types of Chinese, and most other big languages. Why wouldn’t the WPT want their tournaments broadcast to the world?

Deals never smell right to me when there is no communication about the process. The WPT has the right to do what they want, of course, but I sure wouldn’t want to be a WPT shareholder.

We just did another deal with the Asia Pacific Poker Tour. We pride ourselves on leading in the markets that poker will grow in. That’s the time to get into new countries, when poker is still a young game. We did the deal because we knew we were the best for the job, and if this is the way it’s going to go, we are going to compete for each market.

I urge WPT & WSOP to make reporting of events available to more sites. Daniel had a good idea. He told our chief editor about charging a fee for each site to cover each tournament. This is not perfect either because it will shut out some of the great small sites who do great work, but can’t afford a big fee.

But the WSOP and WPT have a point. You can’t open the tournaments to everyone, because then it gets to a point where you have 18 players left in the tournament, and 50 press trying to get themselves in and it’s a big mess. We would be happy to pay a fee and show up and compete. This would also result in the best coverage for the players and the game because competition exposes the weak spots.

The poker public should understand that in tournament reporting, there is no money in it. There is no value for anyone to do tournament reporting. The traffic is sick, but it’s a big money loser. The value in our business is to bring new people in to learn about poker. This is the market we all want, not experienced players who will follow the reporting and not sign up.

The WPT made poker the way it is now I guess. More than anyone, it was Mike Sexton and PartyPoker who had the genius to advertise and with Mike’s belief in poker, combined with the WPT, poker exploded.

That is the past. The WPT had the best product, and the vision powered by Mike, and all of it took poker to a new level.

But look beyond that. What has happened since the first episode of the WPT for the poker player? Some pros have great deals with super sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt. These two sites are returning a lot of money into the poker players’ pockets. If you are good enough, you are offered a deal with one of them. But what role does the WPT have in the future? What is the end goal? Are they positioning to be a gaming company running casino and poker via cryptologic?

And add one final thought to the mix. Why would any site want to run satellites to a WPT event? It appears to be a lose, lose situation. Are these same satellite players going to build a data base for the WPT, who now instead of taking advertising, wants to compete with the poker rooms they are receiving players from?

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