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Poker News | World Poker News

GSN Does Not Renew WPT Contract

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WPT Enterprises has had its troubles over the past year. The Travel Channel backed out after five seasons of airing the show in a prime time slot. The World Poker Tour’s schedule for its seventh season was notably slim with seven fewer shows that the previous season. And though GSN picked up Season VI, the network has declined to renew the contract for the already-scheduled-for-production Season VII.

When GSN picked up the World Poker Tour in 2007, the network that already aired the very popular High Stakes Poker took the WPT at a cheaper price than the Travel Channel had paid, but the executives at WPTE felt that GSN would be a good home for the show. Poker fans everywhere had already upgraded their cable packages to see High Stakes Poker, which took viewers into an expensive ongoing cash game where hundreds of thousands of dollars were sometimes on the line, and the WPT could reap the benefits of partnering with GSN because of it.

The original deadline for GSN to pick up its option on the World Poker Tour was May 24th, which came and went with no decision. WPTE, a publicly traded company, quickly filed papers with the SEC to amend their agreement with GSN to change the deadline to June 7th. Media outlets anxiously watched the calendar as June 7th also came and went.

On June 9th, the Monday after the GSN deadline, a press release was issued noting that the deadline for the option had expired. The spin was evident in the title of the release: WPT Enterprises Opens Discussions for Season VII Television Broadcast Rights. Basically, it seemed like an advertisement for the upcoming WPT season for sale.

GSN CEO David Goldhill left the door open, though barely ajar, by saying, “The World Poker Tour has been a great partner and the show continues to perform strongly on our network. We are continuing discussions with WPTE regarding how we may be able to work together – including perhaps broadcasting parts of Season VII.”

Wait! It has been widely reported that GSN has not renewed its contract with High Stakes Poker, though the network executives refuse to comment officially, and it did not take advantage of an extended renewal option period with the World Poker Tour. It has been speculated in the poker media that GSN wants nothing more to do with poker.

But WPTE notes in its release that it is “in discussions with several major networks to broadcast programming” from the season that is set to begin approximately one month from now with the Bellagio Cup. The spin continued with a vague statement from WPT Founder, President, and CEO Steve Lipscomb:

“We have enjoyed watching the show and our numbers frown on GS. Our hope is that we can find ways to collaborate with the network long into the future. This may allow us the first opportunity to explore diversifying content on multiple networks like most sports leagues. We have already begun those discussions and look forward to making another season of the best and most widely distributed poker programming in the world to our dedicated viewers and fans.”

With the next season’s production only one month away and pre-production likely in progress, WPTE doesn’t have much time for discussions. While the show undoubtedly spurred the poker boom with its innovative programming and tournaments, time is ticking for the poker giant to find a home for its upcoming shows.

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