The Professional Poker Tour is the "all-star" poker event that many want to see on television. Much like when the best in professional golf meet up for their "invitational" tournaments at several points during a golf year, the PPT was set up to take only the best of the best. Through a strenuous qualification guideline, only around 200 players would be eligible to compete on the Professional Poker Tour and, thus, give the public what is desired; the best poker players in the world squaring off on the felt against each other, without the upstart semi-pros or other amateur unknowns involved. The trip to television has been difficult for the PPT, however.
As reported here earlier, World Poker Tour Enterprises has been shopping the PPT around to potential cable network outlets after the 60 day offer period to the Travel Channel had expired. To make a long story short, the Travel Channel attempted to circumvent these negotiations, drawing a suit in the California court system from WPT Enterprises to prevent such roadblocks.
Now it seems, much like poker players at a tournament final table and the ebb and flow of a million dollar battle there, that the game has changed again. According to WPT Enterprises, the other cable network that was looking to purchase the broadcast rights for the PPT has now withdrawn their offer. WPT Enterprises and the Travel Channel are now back in negotiations for bringing the PPT to the network and keeping the entirety of the WPT Enterprises productions under the same roof.
This would be an excellent move by the Travel Channel. First of all, by keeping the entire works of the World Poker Tour and the Professional Poker Tour together, they show loyalty to their dedication to the game and to the advancement of poker overall. The Travel Channel has done quite well with the three years of broadcasts of the WPT, by far their highest rated program. Poker has shown no signs of slowing down, so it would behoove the Travel Channel to continue to hold onto their drawing card to continue to have a strong program to bring viewers to the remainder of their television schedule.
Second, there is already a season of the Professional Poker Tour in the can. Five tournaments have been run in the first season of the PPT that were played out during Season Three of the WPT (at this time, there hasn't been any for the second season of the PPT due to the lack of broadcast outlet) . These broadcasts definitely would give the Travel Channel more programming opportunities. Rather than run repeat broadcasts of the past three years of the WPT, once the season concludes with the WPT Championship, the Travel Channel could run the five (or however many) events from the PPT and continue to sate the thirst of poker fans around the world. This "fresh" programming would thus continue to drive the success of the game and continue to build the desire of poker fans between seasons of the WPT.
Where these negotiations will end up hopefully will be resolved soon. The Travel Channel was there for the World Poker Tour when the WPT needed it start and, in return, the WPT has given the Travel Channel more exposure than it would have earned on its own. The Professional Poker Tour is a jewel that the Travel Channel should have seized on at the start, but it is better late than never. Keep an eye here as this nearly Shakespearian drama continues to play out.
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