World Poker Tour Events to be Broadcast In Belgium, Luxembourg
The World Poker Tour, the planet’s third largest ongoing poker series, has announced a distribution deal with global sports outlet ELEVEN SPORTS that will bring WPT and Alpha8 events to an expanded European audience, in particular in Belgium and Luxembourg.
According to the recently announced deal, both the Season XIII of the long-running WPT and Season I of the WPT’s old Alpha8 tour will air on ELEVEN SPORTS’ linear and over-the-top (referring to the Internet, free of third-party scheduling limitations) channels. Both seasons are canned; the WPT’s Season XIII aired in 2015, and the Season I Alpha8 tour ran in 2013-14. Both tours were carried on FOX Sports in the US at the time, but have received virtually no European airplay. The twinned broadcast approach will allow these lightly-aged WPT and Alpha8 events to be available to poker fans in many European countries in addition to Belgium and Luxembourg.
The new broadcast deal starts in June, and it returns the WPT to a televised presence in Belgium, where the WPT has conducted annual international events since 2013. Though a perennially strong poker brand in a global sense, the WPT has still struggled to fully establish itself on the Euro poker scene, which is dominated by the PokerStars-branded “Stars Live” (formerly the European Poker Tour), and to a lesser extent, the WSOP’s International Circuit and WSOP-Europe offerings.
“We’re delighted to add World Poker Tour and Alpha8 content to the Belgian sports package of ELEVEN SPORTS,” said Danny Menken, Group Managing Director, ELEVEN SPORTS. “We are always looking for great opportunities to increase our local package with different kinds of sports, and the addition of poker content from WPT Distribution allows us to offer more unique and entertaining programming to our audience.”
“WPT Distribution is proud to partner with ELEVEN SPORTS Network to bring premier World Poker Tour content to the network’s robust offering available to audiences in Belgium and Luxembourg,” said Johnny McMahon, VP of WPT Studios. “Pairing WPT, the premier name in televised gaming and entertainment, with a world-class sports and lifestyle entertainment provider such as ELEVEN SPORTS Network, creates the perfect win-win partnership that WPT Distribution is interested in as it continues to aggressively expand its international content distribution.”
The soon-to-launch broadcast deal is also eyed as a platform for increased visibility for the WPT’s Alpha8 events, which have been shelved for the time being. The high buy-in Alpha8 tourneys debuted back in 2013, though as mentioned, these broadcasts will serve as essentially “new” content for most of ELEVEN SPORTS’ viewer base of 70 million homes. It’s unknown as to whether Seasons II and III of the now-suspended Alpah8 series will also be broadcast on ELEVEN. The Alpha8 tour went on hiatus after its 2015-16 schedule, though it’s not impossible that the WPT could relaunch the brand and series should it generate significant audience interest.
In addition to its primary services to viewers in Belgium and Luxembourg, ELEVEN SPORTS Networks broadcasts in Poland, Italy, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States. The WPT, however, had that deal with FOX Sports to televise the WPT content within the US. It is likely that FOX retains rebroadcast rights, meaning that ELEVEN is unlikely to air those Alpha8 and WPT events in the States. Nonetheless, the network’s scattered presence elsewhere around the globe surely helps the WPT’s long-term growth.