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The global poker community is slowly but steadily gravitating towards video-centric poker content and the latest big player to take the plunge in this direction is none other than the World Poker Tour (WPT). Recently, the international poker brand partnered with leading video streaming service provider Unreel to offer players and fans easy access to WPT’s high-quality video content through its new free OTT (over-the-top) streaming service WatchWPT. Though the brand has previously aired its coverage on subscription-based OTT streaming services, this will be the first time that the WPT is offering its plethora of video content to viewers for free on its very own platform!
WSOP, partypoker & PokerStars Jump Onto the Video Streaming Bandwagon
The rise in popularity of video content for poker has led many big brands in recent years to take to video streaming. The biggest poker festival, World Series of Poker, has also been streaming some of its major events on the streaming platforms Poker Central, PokerGo and ESPN.
Even partypoker has launched its very own live-streaming channel on Twitch, partypoker 247, that will broadcast round-the-clock, seven days a week delivering intense and exciting poker action generated by its new Team Online.
Even the biggest $25K buy-in tournament in the history of poker, the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC), had live-streamed its final table on YouTube and Twitch.
WPT to Offer Free OTT Streaming Service
The concept of poker as a spectator sport is not new and emerging new technologies and platforms have only added to the ease of bringing the mind game to consumers more readily.
Joining the club of big guns in the industry working towards video-centric fan engagement, WPT has come together with the video streaming service provider Unreel to provide high-quality video content through its new free OTT streaming service WatchWPT.
In fact, WPT has already begun live streaming its content as the final tables of three major events, i.e., WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event, the Season XVII WPT Gardens Poker Championship Main Event and WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open (WPO) Championship were all delayed and then played at the HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on consecutive days as part of televised coverage. All three events were live streamed on Poker Central and PokerGO.
WPT has over 250 hours of coverage of the WPT, Alpha8 and WPT Greatest that will be exclusively featured on WatchWPT. The video content will be in the form of live streams, short form videos and selections from the vast WPT library.
Vice President of WPT Studios at WPT Enterprises, Johnny McMahon, has said that depending on the success of the service and the likes and dislikes of viewers, additional content from the WPT archives may be added to the services.
“We are evaluating our options to see what the best content is to add to the more than 250 hours available through the WatchWPT app,” McMahon stated. “If there is a demand from viewers to add certain elements from the WPT catalog, we are happy to provide from our 17 seasons available.”
Only Major WPT Events Will Be Available on OTT
WatchWPT will mainly be offering final table coverages of major WPT events, while WPT500 and WPTDeepastacks will be available on live streaming platforms like Twitch and YoutTube for now.
“WPT500 and WPTDeepStacks events are exclusively live streamed at this stage and there is an appetite for them based on the thousands of viewers who tune in,” McMahon explained. “If those viewers translate to an audience for the WatchWPT app, we can ensure they will have access to that content.”
The coverage of events that will be featured on WatchWPT will predominantly be restricted to final tables confirmed McMahon. “For right now, our live streaming platform is exclusively final table coverage. Our audience has shown that as of now, that is the content they are most interested in.”
The WatchWPT app is available in the App Store for iOS devices and on Google Play for Android devices. The service is also available via a number of different distribution endpoints including Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and the WorldPokerTour.tv website.
In a press release, WPT stated, “In the U.S. alone, there are around 40 million people who play poker on a regular basis. Of those players, 6.9 million are avid watchers of poker on television. With the continuous increase of viewers shifting from cable to OTT, there is a need for more niche streaming platforms. WPT has bridged the gap with WatchWPT, connecting poker players and fans to their favorite WPT video content.”
CEO of Unreel Dan Goikhman also commented of the partnership with WPT saying, “We are proud to play a role in the distribution of content that viewers love. Through our partnership with World Poker Tour, we will provide a high-quality viewing experience for poker players and fans across the globe.”
At present, WPT’s content is mostly broadcast on Fox Sports Net, along with some leading subscription-based OTT poker streaming services like PokerGo, Tubi, PLUTO and Sinclair’s STIRR.