New agreement with CBS Sports for the WSOP
In late April, CBS Sports announced that it would take over airing the World Series of Poker. Prior to this reveal, the tournament was aired on ESPN. This development came just a short time after the World Series of Poker unveiled its full roster of planned 2021 competitions for players to have the chance to win a coveted WSOP bracelet. The bracelets signify the highest-stake games for the World Series of Poker.
What Is The World Series of Poker?
The World Series of Poker, or WSOP, is an annual poker tournament series held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sponsored by Caesars Entertainment, the championship has been ongoing since 1970. In the new millennium, the World Series of Poker expanded dramatically, establishing outposts in countries around the world including those in Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Over the course of the history of the World Series of Poker, more than $3.2 billion has been awarded to poker champions. According to coverage about the WSOP-CBS Sports partnership, the World Series of Poker is the world’s longest-running poker championship, a formidable presence in the world of international poker tournaments.
2020 Championship Postponed Due To Pandemic
Unsurprisingly, the 2020 World Series of Poker couldn’t proceed as planned due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the event ultimately landed on a hybrid online and in-person style poker event, managing to crown Argentine poker player Damian Salas the World Series of Poker champion in January 2021.
Salas ultimately defeated his American rival, Joseph Herbert, in a poker showdown with a jackpot worth more than $1 million. The players were also competing for a diamond and gold World Series of Poker bracelet, the very same kind that WSOP fans will be able to watch championships for throughout this year.
Despite Unusual Form, Unprecedented Success
Though the 2020 World Series of Poker took place months later than usual, splitting its content into online and in-person events, the year saw record highs for revenue both internationally and domestically. Over the course of 31 bracelet events, the WSOP managed to rake in $26.9 million in prize pools.
The increase is likely attributable to the fact that online gambling and sports betting both soared during the pandemic, a time in which the legal parameters of both were expanded to accommodate the forced closure of casinos around the world during the early months of the pandemic. These losses were then exacerbated by capacity limits and low tourism.
Fans Can Now Watch On CBS, Not ESPN
In late April, CBS Sports announced that it would be responsible for airing many of the World Series of Poker’s best-known events, thanks to a partnership with PokerGO. Prior to this arrangement, the championship was consistently aired on a competing sports network, ESPN.
What’s Going To Be Available
Viewers of the World Series of Poker will be able to watch the WSOP Main Event and select WSOP Bracelet Events for several years to come. In total, World Series of Poker fans will have access to 36 hours of WSOP Bracelet Events — 18 different championships. This is in addition to 15 hours of coverage of the WSOP Main Event, held in Las Vegas.
A Return To CBS For WSOP
In fact, WSOP originally aired on CBS in its first iterations in the 1970s. At the time, viewers in the US watched poker on TV through what CBS called its SPORTS SPECTACULAR series, pioneering the idea of competitive poker as a sport in its own right. Ty Stewart, the executive director of WSOP, emphasized this history when talking about the deal.
Shortly Before Announcement, WSOP Reveals Upcoming Bracelet Events
Just before the World Series of Poker revealed that it would be airing on CBS, the brand unveiled which of its upcoming bracelet events will be streaming online. The events will be taking place in July and August of 2021, with at least one bracelet event taking place every day until August 1. 33 bracelet events will be held over the course of a single month.