As the World Poker Tour production crew and public relations employees arrived at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for the start of the Bellagio Cup tournament, it was clear why there were few worried faces in the casino. WPT Enterprises had a deal in the works with Fox Sports Network to air the latest season of WPT shows, and the official announcement was made on Thursday, July 17th, just before the final table was to be filmed.
Though the WPT started out strong with a solid deal for its first five seasons on the Travel Channel, the company experienced some rocky times after its subsequent Season VI deal with GSN that ended in a non-renewal of the television contract for Season VII. Time went on, and though production was still scheduled to start with the Bellagio Cup, the WPT was clearly struggling to find its way and made some cutbacks to the tournament schedule, not to mention its office employees, in the process of working through the transition.
But with little time to spare, a deal was inked with Fox Sports Network (FSN) – owned by News Corporation – to partner with and issue a broadcast license for Season VII of the World Poker Tour television series. FSN received the exclusive rights to air 26 one-hour episodes in the United States, though broadcast dates have not been announced.
WPT Founder, President, and CEO Steve Lipscomb said, “FSN and News Corporation are two incredible powerhouses in the television industry that have played key roles in the growth and popularity of televised poker. It couldn’t be a better fit for WPT and our fans. We’re thrilled.”
George Greenberg, FSN Executive Vice President of Programming and Production, added, “The World Poker Tour has a track record as the ultimate brand name in televised poker. FSN is very happy to televise such quality content and we look forward to future programming opportunities with the WPT.”
The WPT kicked off its seventh season with the Bellagio Cup, the final table of which will comprise the first two episodes on FSN. The second stop on the tour will be the Bicycle Casino in August, and it is assumed that the times and dates for the FSN broadcasts will be announced near that time.