Poker Central to End Scheduled Broadcast, Streaming Offerings
Poker Central, the cable-broadcast and live-stream network that launched in 2015 with the promise of offering 24/7 broadcast content to poker players and enthusiasts, will be pulling back from those promises with the discontinuation of its linear programming stream (scheduled broadcasts) at the end of 2016. Instead, the company will focus solely on its web presence, video offerings and other online content.
The cutback was first published by Multichannel News, which monitors business developments across the broadcast-network spectrum. Multichannel News did not indicate how it learned of the developments involving Poker Central, though the omission of the channel’s broadcast offerings from January 2017 schedules, typically assembled for publication several weeks prior to the start of the next month, was likely a leading hint.
MCN also received confirmation from Poker Central’s president, Joe Kakaty. Kakaty also confirmed that all live-streaming content, such as that available via Poker Central’s smartphone app, will also end as of December 31st. “It’s a digital pivot because we saw our millennial audience wanted more content. But they wanted new, original content,” Kakaty told MCN.
Poker Central has not issued a formal statement yet via its online home or any of its social-media accounts. However, the network did confirm the news indirectly via Twitter by responding to a fan’s inquiry with, “Don’t fear! Our content will remain available on demand with much more to come on YouTube, Twitch, etc.”
It appeared that Poker Central was slowly building its broadcast presence and availability through 2016. Early on, the network found it tough sledding the lineups being offered by cable and online systems. Per MCN’s data, Poker Central had a distribution pact with National Cable Television Cooperative and was also carried on a small Ohio cable system, Buckeye Broadband. Poker Central was also available on a handful of one-off broadcast platforms such as Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.
Kakaty confirmed that all pay-TV deals involving Poker Central will end December 31st, leaving the fledging network with only its self-controlled channels for the offering of its content. Poker Central is still expected to offer new content, including poker discussion, lifestyle, and tournament coverage, but all such content is now likely to be “as available” rather than in accordance with a pre-planned schedule.
For Poker Central, which has billed itself as “the ultimate source for fans of poker and the poker lifestyle,” the restructuring represents as much as a coming to grips with broadcast reality as it does with any particular reality. The network can still make its claims such as this, from its Facebook page: “Available globally, where and when you want it, Poker Central’s delivery of everything poker offers a peek behind the scenes into the VIP lifestyle and lavish, jet-setting world of high roller poker players. Shot on location in Las Vegas and in exotic places around the globe, Poker Central offers fans of poker, and the poker lifestyle, a glimpse into the quirky, funny, exciting and riveting stories that make up the crazy world of poker.”
Providing the content, of course, has always been only one part of Poker Central’s mission. Finding the best way to connect with a willing poker audience has always been another piece of the puzzle, and Poker Central will explore new strategies with that goal in mind as 2017 begins.