Last night I watched the 2011 WSOP final table being streamed live online, well the first part of the final as I’m sure many others did. I hooked up a laptop to my 42 inch LED TV set up the cables and was all good to go, well at least that’s what I thought would be the case.
What unfolded was a bit of mixed feelings in regard to how the WSOP 2011 live stream was run and in general how much better coverage for the greatest poker event of the year could have been handled.
My first issue was I searched all my satellite channels which is really saying something as I have a Dreambox and access to most European TV channels via satellite which includes ESPN and ESPN America but sadly the WSOP was being shown on ESPN2 which I could not access.
My only means to watch the “WSOP 2011 live” was via a live streaming broadcast of the WSOP which was easy enough to find as we had previously posted about the 2011 WSOP Final Live on ESPN.
So after setting up my laptop TV combo I loaded the WSOP live stream only to find out that too many others had done the same thing causing the live feed to crash I then checked out the WSOP twitter feed which read “Sorry folks, we're experiencing a minor issue with the feed. It should be up and running in 15 min. Players now on the 1st break of the day.”
2011 WSOP Final - Live Streaming + ESPN
This 15 minute minor issue turned out to be quite a major issue as it was down for over 2 hours before returning apparently “We had to increase our internet bandwidth and that has caused some configuration issues. We will be back up shortly!” then amazingly after downloading Veetle (the program which needs to be installed in order to view the internet broadcast) and waiting for Veetle’s 15 minute time delay I was able to watch a fair amount of the WSOP live, the WSOP live feed for the most part was pretty decent despite the HD stream not working well enough to watch and the SD version occasionally stuttering and going down a few times throughout the broadcast.
With the above scenario unfolding, it made me think a bit about the situation and how it could or rather should have been shown.
Firstly, what on earth was the WSOP thinking in not providing sufficient bandwidth for the most important poker event of the year?
Secondly, why was the 2011 WSOP not broadcast live in Europe like it was on ESPN2?
The organizers were probably overwhelmed with the amount of players worldwide wanting to watch the final table live with their only means of doing so if they are situated outside of the USA being via an official WSOP live streaming feed.
Surely the WSOP final table deserves the status of a World Cup like football or Rugby and broadcast rights should have been awarded to several worldwide broadcasters thereby making the sport of poker more accessible to everyone. The popularity of poker in Europe is still on an upward rise and online poker companies are aware of this and would spend far more in marketing and resources had European broadcasters been in on some of the action. In contrast the USA is a bit of a losing bet for the major online poker operators marketing needs as many have been closed since black Friday.
Perhaps the WSOP don’t fully understand the size of their global audience and the power vested in them of making poker popular, one only needs to mention Chris Moneymaker’s win in the WSOP and the subsequent growth of online poker to understand the power the WSOP broadcasts have. Another point that is pretty clear is that poker has become more global in recent years as can be seen by this year’s November 9 finalists, only 3 Americans were sat at the final table.
On a positive note, the new format of watching the WSOP live was awesome, watching unedited hands despite a 15 minute delay enforced by the Nevada gaming authorities to ensure game fairness. The hole cards were made visible only when a hand concluded making viewing far more intriguing that knowing what all the players were holding and giving viewers a true feel of tournament final table play mixed in with a bit of DIY reading skills with the assistance of the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Antonio Esfandiari and the ESPN poker commentary team who did an awesome job.
But seriously, please make the WSOP main event final a true global spectacle rather than just an event that ESPN has the rights over, you have an outstanding product with growing international demand make it huge so everyone can enjoy it.
One last important thing to mention is that the WSOP 2011 Live Streaming - Final Table will be broadcast tonight at 6PM PST / 9PM ET catch it on ESPN (for Americans only) or via the live 2011 WSOP stream (for everyone else, lets hope it works).