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Poker on Television Adjustments since Black Friday

ESPN Cancels NAPT Shows and Fox Pulls Both the PokerStars Big Game and Million Dollar Challenge

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U.S. DoJ LogoThe full ramifications for Black Friday still remain to be seen but many developments this week have meant that there will be less poker on television moving forward since the closure of major online sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to U.S. online players. These websites were the driving force behind many poker programming, serving as major on-air sponsors or in some cases purchasing air time for poker-themed shows. The lack of advertising dollars created by their pullout from the market has already caused some cancellations as you will read about below and there might be more in the future.

Let’s take a look at the recent developments for televised poker since last Friday, April 15, when the U.S. Department of Justice indicted the major online card rooms.

ESPN

In a statement issued Tuesday regarding the case, ESPN said: "We are aware of the indictment only through what has been announced publicly. For the immediate future, we are making efforts to remove related advertising and programming pending further review.”
ESPN has canceled all episodes for the PokerStars North American Poker Tour, which was set to air this past Monday but was replaced by a college football skills challenge. ESPN is still set to broadcast their normal schedule for the 2011 World Series of Poker at this time but that could change by the time cards get into the air in Las Vegas this summer.

NBC

No official announcement has been made regarding the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. The main sponsor for the show is GoDaddy.com, which is not tied to any indictment, so the filmed episodes that feature the triumph of Erik Seidel are currently airing. The show began airing on Sunday, April 17 on NBC and it is set to continue each Sunday until May 22.

NBC also recently aired new episodes of the Poker After Dark $100k PLO Cash Game, but no officials at NBC could be reached for comment about the future of the show, which is sponsored by the indicted Full Tilt Poker.

Fox

Fox has canceled both the PokerStars Big Game and PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge. The Big Game will still air outside of the United States and on PokerStars.tv. There were 12 weeks of the PokerStars Big Game that aired before it was canceled.

GSN

High Stakes Poker aired this past weekend on the Game Show Network and there are no current plans to shut down the show. The show will discontinue its PokerStars sponsorship and all branding, on-screen graphics and mentions during the show will be removed. The show will also now air at 11 p.m. ET and PT on Saturdays.

Fox Sports Net

The World Poker Tour has confirmed that season IX will still air on Fox Sports Net uninterrupted and although the Season X schedule has yet to be announced that recent events will have very little impact on the announcement of the Season X schedule.