NBC Sports announced a partnership with PokerGO, a subscription video streaming service from Poker Central, that will bring some of the sport’s most popular programming to linear television through the end of the year. The network will begin broadcasting PokerGO content starting on Sept. 24 with the U.S. Poker Open.
The deal comes as PokerGO has seen viewership increase 150% and minutes watched are up more than 225% year-over-year in 2020, which both parties hope will translate to television viewership.
“Right now, [as] the world has experienced and is continuing to experience some incredible challenges, we are thankful that even through those difficulties we’re able to undergo our largest growth to date,” said Tyler Champley, Poker Central’s vice president of marketing and audience development.
Tournaments from around the world, including the Australian Poker Open, along with original series like Poker After Dark Golden Nights will air on NBC Sports Network. The original Poker After Dark hour-long television program premiered on NBC in 2007 and was canceled in 2011. Rebooted in 2017, Poker After Dark streamed exclusively on PokerGO until now, coming full circle.
“NBC Sports Network is not only a great partner but a natural one for PokerGO…. Thirteen years [after the original Poker After Dark premiered], we are delivering new episodes of this fan-favorite poker show back to the network as part of this deal,” Champley added.
Poker Central, a poker-focused media company and events host, and NBC Sports Group have an existing arrangement that was extended earlier this year to run through 2022, which incorporated a trio of major tournaments into NBC’s linear television schedule but did not include any of PokerGO’s original programming like Poker After Dark.
The deal brings NBC Sports further into the fold of Poker Central’s growing list of partners, which also includes ESPN. The Disney-owned giant, in partnership with Poker Central, has aired the World Series of Poker (WSOP) for the last several years. PokerGO offered additional main event coverage beyond what was offered during ESPN’s broadcast windows. In 2019, ESPN televised at least 40 hours of live coverage of the event, along with another 90 hours of originally produced episodes.
ESPN and Poker Central were again slated as the 2020 WSOP broadcast partners before the event was postponed due to COVID-19. Poker Central, founded by poker player Cary Katz in 2015, notes that the deal with NBC Sports enables them to expand other poker brands outside of the WSOP, including the Poker Central-owned and operated U.S. Poker Open and Australian Poker Open.