For months we have been reporting news about the new Epic Poker League, and then we reported that most poker TV shows won’t be airing anymore. That makes the news about the Epic Poker League signing a deal with the CBS network and Discovery Communications’ new HD cable network Velocity very exciting!
For poker fans, there is nothing better than watching their favorite poker icons battling it out on the green felt in front of the TV cameras. While recent news has spelled doom and gloom for future poker shows sponsored by online poker rooms, a new hand is being dealt – the Epic Poker Leagues live poker tournaments will be broadcast!
Starting next month, 20 hours of live coverage of the Epic Poker League’s most exciting tournament action will be broadcast in the USA. The inaugural Epic Poker League tournament will kick-off on August 9th and run until the 12th at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. The Velocity Network will cull the most exciting moments of the poker battle and start airing it on October 4, 2011.
To bring the poker action to approximately 40 million homes, CBS Sports meanwhile will follow up with reruns of seven hours of episodes for those who couldn’t watch on the Velocity network. Legendary Emmy Award-winning host Pat O’Brien will be in the announcer’s seat joined by Ali Nejad, who is the announcer for TV poker shows like NBC’s Poker After Dark and the National Heads-Up Poker Championship.
To get league events on TV, the Epic Poker League’s parent company, Federated Sports & Gaming (FS+G) made a deal with CBS where they will be using the ‘time buy’ method to get their shows aired on weekends so more fans can tune in. The deal with Velocity however is a ‘promotional barter’ agreement. That means that FS+G won’t have to pay Velocity to air the TV shows, nor will they have to pay the off screen commentators.
Following the huge success of ESPN’s recent coverage of the record breaking World Series Of Poker, FS+G is hoping there are thousands of viewers out there just waiting for the chance to watch some of the biggest pros on the planet in action on TV. The League’s executive chairman Jeffrey Pollack thinks the viewers are out there and the show will give “significant new exposure for poker’s most talented live tournament players.” He continued by saying that “Epic Poker is proud to partner with CBS Television and Discovery Communications in our inaugural season. Both companies share our commitment to providing a world-class stage.”
Helping to draw viewers will be an all-star roster of 218 of the most famous names in the poker world including; Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel, Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan, and Barry Greenstein. Many more famous pros will be joining as they qualify for the Epic Poker League as they all fight to make it to the top 27 to qualify for the $1 million prize pool FreeRoll.
In the aftermath of Black Friday, the future of TV shows have been in doubt since many were sponsored by Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, who were forced out of the US market. Those poker sites sponsored poker TV shows purely as an advertisement platform; to gain recognition and new business in the US. Since Americans can no longer play in their shuttered poker rooms, the US network sponsorship deals are a no win investment for poker sites, so will surely be cancelled.
There is definitely a market for televised poker matches and the Epic Poker League’s new deal may just be the winning hand.