With the ESPN coverage of the 2009 World Series of Poker in full broadcast swing on the network, it seemed like as good a time as any to come to an agreement on a long-term deal. A relationship that began in 2003 has now been solidified for seven years - on top of the two years already under contract - to carry the ESPN and Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, Inc. through April 2018.
The contract was announced on August 18, 2009, and it bonds the WSOP and ESPN for seven years. ESPN agreed to televise a minimum of 32 hours of WSOP coverage from each Series in Las Vegas, which must include more than one gold bracelet event as well as the Main Event, which comes with the November Nine final table. Thus, it seems that the November Nine concept will stick and move forward through the next seven years.
Harrah’s agreed to allow the WSOP content to be aired on ESPN and all of its name-related platforms, including ESPN Classic, ESPN International, and ESPN Mobile TV. This ensures a broad platform for new episodes and repeats in the United States as well as broadcasts in other parts of the world.
The press release made no mention, however, of the World Series of Poker Europe that is scheduled to take place in London in September and has been televised on ESPN in past years. Presumably, an announcement about WSOPE programming will be made as the London tournament dates approach.
Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment and WSOP President Jeffrey Pollack said of the agreement, “The WSOP is proud to call ESPN home for another nine years. This long-term agreement ensures that our content will continue to reach sports fans around the world through every medium that matters.”
ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions Doug White added, “We are very excited to continue our relationship with Harrah’s to deliver the largest, richest, and most prestigious gaming event in the world to fans across a variety of our platforms. Poker continues to be a solid ratings performer for us and allows us to continue offering diverse programming to our viewers.”
Currently, the 2009 WSOP episodes can be seen on ESPN for two hours each Tuesday night, beginning at 8pm ET, with repeat broadcasts on ESPN2 and other platforms throughout the week. Coverage will wrap with the semi-live broadcast of the November Nine final table on November 10.