With licensing arrangements for broadcast in over 120 countries, the World Poker Tour has taken the thrills of poker all over the world. While most would be happy with that achievement, the WPT is always looking for new fans and new outlets. On November 1st, the WPT announced that it will be the keystone in the opening of a new channel in England.
ITV4 is the latest channel in the ITV family of channels that are broadcast in the United Kingdom. Through securing the exclusive broadcast rights to the first and second seasons of the WPT, ITV4 is looking to make a mark in broadcasting to a mostly male audience. ITV4 is looking to become an entertainment channel that provides quality programming to an discerning, upscale audience with a strong male bias (think of "SpikeTV" here in America and you get the idea).
"This is a great beginning for our new integrated world strategy," said Steve Lipscomb, CEO and founder of WPT Enterprises, Inc. "The WPT has found a strong partnership in the U.K. to build our brand and bring our programming to the millions of viewers that ITV reaches. The poker mania that the World Poker Tour inspired in the U.S. is taking hold in the U.K. with a vengeance and this partnership will continue to make us a driving force in the second largest poker market in the world."
The 72 hours of programming that the first two seasons of the WPT brings to ITV4 will be a tremendous boost to the network, but the WPT is also looking to expand its online poker room into the United Kingdom as well. The WPT is looking to use its broadcasts to advertise and expand wptonline.com, the poker room endeavor that was started earlier in 2005 and is looking for European players to be a strong presence in its online room. With the new outlet, the WPT is also looking to expand its product marketing (poker chip sets, apparel, etc.) as well.
"We are extremely pleased to make the World Poker Tour part of ITV4's exciting launch line up," said ITV4 Channel Editor Steve Arnell. "We have seen what the show has done for broadcasters in the U.S. and abroad. It has developed a large and devoted fan base worldwide and we believe it will be an important addition to the ITV4 schedule."
The network is now on the air, featuring such American programming as "Kojak" starring Ving Rhames, William Shatner's hoax reality show "Invasion Iowa" and "Crank Yankers", a telephone crank call program with puppets acting out the calls that is a staple of Comedy Central in the United States. ITV4 will also feature UEFA Champions League football and live boxing. The WPT makes it debut on the channel in prime time on November 4th at 10PM (England Time).
It shows that, as the WPT continues to be the benchmark in the United States for televised poker, that the world is still eager to view the offerings of not just the WPT but also of the poker world. To be sure at some time the agreement will be extended into the third season and, upon its completion, the current fourth season, spreading the game to an ever growing market. Poker fans in the United Kingdom now have some other things to do on a Friday evening, and that is the World Poker Tour on ITV4!
Ed note: Are you in the UK? Want to play with only European players? No American depositors allowed at William Hill