Is the 24-Hour Poker Network Poker Central Shutting Down?

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Since it was founded in late 2015, the television channel Poker Central has been trying to find their way in a very difficult broadcasting world. Now news is emerging that, by the end of December, the channel allegedly may shut down its cable network broadcasting outlet.

Per Kent Gibbons at Broadcasting and Cable Magazine, Poker Central has been having some difficulty getting on various broadcasting outlets around the country. The network had a partnership with Buckeye Broadband to broadcast the network in the Ohio region, but other outlets were either not willing to jump on board or were waiting until after the new year to go live with the channel (according to sources from Gibbons). Up to this time (and without the other programmers offering the network), the network had been doing decently reaching its fans through their Twitch channel and various streaming devices such as the Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Apparently that wasn’t enough for those in charge of the network, including major investor/poker professional Cary Katz. The decision was made, according to Gibbons, by Katz to end the broadcast schedule on December 31 and it caught many of those in positions of responsibility by surprise. Gibbons could not even confirm the shutdown of Poker Central with the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Clint Stinchcomb (a former World Poker Tour executive), and many others were reportedly “disappointed” with the decision, according to Gibbons.

A press release from earlier in 2016 may have been the indicator that this move was coming. Back in September,  a press release announced the expansion of their digital (re:  online) product, partially because of their success on Twitch and partially to give their viewers what they want. “Poker Central is wildly popular with poker fans, who want the freedom to enjoy our content when, where and how they want” said Joe Kakaty, the president of Poker Central, during that press announcement. “We found an almost insatiable appetite for live poker and are investing in new studios in both New York and Las Vegas to feed it. Poker fans will love our full slate of live fast-action poker and our fantastic daily content offerings.”

Another member of the Poker Central hierarchy, Vice President of Content Sam Simmons, echoed Kakaty. “When our early access to the initial hours of the Super High Roller Bowl shattered Twitch records, we decided to embrace our audience’s preferred viewing habits,” commented in the press release.  “This means access to poker programming on the platforms of their choice, while expanding our live TV broadcasts by partnering with several fully distributed networks.”

Now it seems that those other “fully distributed networks” and the live television broadcasts are out the window. What will become of some of their broadcasting remains to be seen. In the September press release, it was mentioned that such programming as Pokerography (think A&E’s Biography, only about poker players) and the previously mentioned Super High Roller Bowl will be a part of their digital future. It was also mentioned that they would be mixed with “other live events, scheduled episodic web series, daily short-form news and edgy content that’s ideal for today’s consumption habits.”

What wasn’t mentioned expressly in the September press release or by Gibbons is the future of Inside Poker with Matt Savage or even Live at the Bike. The Savage program would delve into discussions with the major power brokers in the poker world (and some players would get in occasionally also), while LATB, the longtime cash game broadcast of live action from the Bicycle Casino in California, was looking to make its jump from just being an internet sensation to being broadcast across the country to fans. These programs may be a part of the digital future of the Poker Central offerings, but it wasn’t declared outright.

If the network is truly leaving, then it is unfortunate. Many attempts have been made at a 24/7 poker channel, both internationally and in the States of America, and it seems that there isn’t quite the audience to drive the bottom line for the programming. While having Poker Central as a digital outlet on Twitch or over the internet, it isn’t the same as sitting down in your chair to watch it in your living room on the HDTV.

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