After hyping their product as “the world’s only round-the-clock poker TELEVISION network” (emphasis by author), yesterday’s debut of Poker Central was rather disappointing as it became painfully apparent that the new “channel” is nothing more than a streaming outlet, falling far short of the requirement for a TELEVISION station or network.
Visitors to the Poker Central website are sent to a specific area of their website that lists the “outlets” where Poker Central can be found. At this time, only the streaming devices Roku, Amazon Fire, Xbox One and FilmOn.tv offer the channel in their lineups, with the Xbox 360 being listed as “available soon.” Not listed in any of these offerings are such other popular streaming outlets as the Chromecast, the PlayStation 4 or Apple TV.
What is missing from this list also? How about any of the major cable carriers in the United States or the remainder of the world to broadcast the channel. On the Poker Channel website, visitors can leave their pertinent information – name, e-mail, ZIP code, cable or digital television provider – and Poker Central says they will “e-mail you when the channel is available in your area.” This goes against what the “powers that be” with Poker Central previously stated that it would be – a 24/7 poker “television network.”
Now that we’ve established that this isn’t anything other than a streaming network right now, the actual content of the channel leaves a great deal to be desired. Bringing the channel up on my Roku for a few hours, all I have seen to this point are broadcasts of past tournaments, none of this “exciting” new programming that has been promised by network honchos. Although watching some of the Season 7 Premier League from 2014 was interesting, Poker Central showed ONE episode of the Premier League, then dropped the viewer into a whole other broadcast of the 2009 PKR Heads Up Grand Slam (note to the programmers: I don’t want to have to search around for the next broadcast of a long past tournament if I am watching it – your broadcast schedule isn’t exactly easy to find on the website or through promotion on the channel itself. Either play it all the way through or don’t do it at all).
On another aside to the executives at Poker Central, it might be a good idea to stay away from those shows that prominently feature some of the players from the old Full Tilt Poker. One of the staples of programming from Poker Central is the old program Face the Ace, where an Average Joe squared off in heads-up matches with players from the Full Tilt stable. You’re not going to win many fans to your network if poker aficionados have to sit down to watch Chris Ferguson or Howard Lederer, two pariahs in the poker world even if it is in the past (the Poker After Dark episodes might be OK, depending on who is playing in the event).
Poker Central does try to give the appearance of a traditional television network, actually running some commercials in their programming. They also run a promotional bumper – a man who accidentally eats a massive amount of wasabi and tries to play it off to his friend as if nothing has happened, with the tag line “Show Us Your Poker Face,” (not surprisingly a contest that the network is currently running) – that is funny the first time you see it, but wears thin really quickly. Unfortunately, this appears to be the only one that they took the time to create, so get used to it.
What is unfortunately evident is that there should have been more of an emphasis placed on creating new programming for Poker Central than finding filler to go in around two or three programs. There is little in what would be called “new” programs on the channel – tournament director Matt Savage is supposed to have what could be an interesting interview program, but no shows currently are scheduled and poker professional Maria Ho is supposed to be the head of another program, also not expected to premiere for some time – leaving…24 hours to fill with something until these shows (and hopefully others) are ready to be broadcast.
Yes, Poker Central is in its embryonic stage of its development. It will take some time to get a catalog built up so that the channel isn’t playing poker tournaments 23 hours a day, but it is something that needs to be addressed quickly. It also must be addressed that Poker Central isn’t an actual television channel but a streaming one. When you bluff, you have to be telling a convincing story…Poker Central’s leadership isn’t doing well on that front. Perhaps a few more months in development would have provided a better product; it will be tough to keep an audience if you are creating it on the fly.