After the first six weeks of coverage of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) on cable sports giant ESPN, the ratings are down slightly in comparison to last year’s numbers.
The overall ratings for the first six weeks of WSOP coverage on ESPN have garnered a 0.67 rating, with a rating of 1.0 meaning that approximately 1.1 million viewers were watching a program. This would give the WSOP on ESPN an average of 737,000 viewers over the first six weeks of broadcasting. Compared to 2009, when the first six weeks pulled in a 0.79 rating (869,000 viewers), the ratings have dropped approximately 16%.
Among the demographics, only one ratings group showed improvement over its 2009 numbers. For men above the age of 55, the ratings have gone up to 0.80 from their 2009 average of 0.74. All other demographics have either remained steady or fallen.
After ESPN aired its special WSOP preview episode on July 20th, the Poker Player’s Championship drew two hours of coverage the next week. The battle, which featured brothers Robert and eventual champion Michael Mizrachi, improved the first week ratings over 2009. Those numbers – 0.7 in 2010 versus the 0.6 average in 2009 – were a 15% increase year-over-year.
The next week, the revival of the Tournament of Champions that included some of the top names in the game was featured. Players involved in this final table included former victor Annie Duke, Howard Lederer, Barry Greenstein, and T.J. Cloutier alongside former World Champions Johnny Chan and Joe Hachem. Former World Champion Huck Seed would go on to take the title at one of the most star-studded final tables in recent WSOP history.
The broadcasts of the 2010 WSOP Main Event began on August 10th featuring the second largest field in Main Event history. 7,319 players came to the tables to battle it out for an $8.9 million first place prize and one of the most cherished bracelets a player can earn. Over the last month, Mike Matusow, 2003 WSOP Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker, 2004 WSOP Main Event winner Greg Raymer, inaugural WSOP Europe Main Event champion Annette Obrestad, and 2008 WSOP Player of the Year Erick Lindgren have been featured as part of ESPN’s coverage.
Last week’s of coverage of the WSOP on ESPN featured some of the most volatile action of the 2010 schedule. The two hours of coverage were from Day 2B of this year’s tournament, with much of that time spent on a feature table that included 1995 World Champion Dan Harrington, 2009 November Nine member Jeff Shulman, top poker pro Josh Arieh. The real highlight of the latest coverage by ESPN, however, was a disputed hand on an outer table between Ted Bort and noted pro Prahlad Friedman.
In one of the most memorable moments caught on a WSOP broadcast, Bort, who is the CEO of Allied Network Solutions, and Friedman were on the river in a hotly contested hand. After Bort pushed his stack to the center, Friedman pondered his decision while Bort annoyingly barked like a dog.
The clock was called on Friedman and, once Rio staff announced the count of one, Friedman made the call. The floor, however, ruled the hand dead because Friedman didn’t make the call in time, saving him from elimination. Although several players protested the decision, it stood and Friedman stayed in the $10,000 buy-in tournament.
The WSOP Main Event will continue to be the focus on ESPN over the next ten weeks. The broadcasts, which come in two-hour blocks on Tuesdays from 9:00pm to 11:00pm Eastern Time, will continue to track the most prestigious tournament in poker to its end.