ESPN’s ratings for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) are down 8% for the first two broadcasts this year compared to 2008 according to Poker News Daily.
Poker News Daily has learned that ESPN’s coverage of the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) has experienced an 8% dip in television ratings through two weeks to 0.72. Last year, the mark was 0.78.
In addition to ratings seeing an 8% slide, household impressions also fell, albeit a modest 5%. The total number of household impressions through two weeks of the 2009 WSOP was 714,904, compared with last year’s tally of 750,315. Four one-hour episodes have aired so far, with 26 more comprising coverage of the Ante Up for Africa charity tournament and the prestigious $10,000 buy-in Main Event.
Things look bad, but the news isn’t “fall off the table” bad.
Figures released after the July 28th kickoff telecast revealed that viewers were up 2% among men age 18 to 34. The number of viewers age 25 to 54 was up a commanding 16% after the first episode of the 2009 WSOP debuted on ESPN and the number of viewers age 18 to 49 was on par with the 2008 broadcast. The first telecast of the 2009 WSOP on ESPN featured the $40,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament commemorating the 40th running of the WSOP. In the end, Vitaly Lunkin dominated the 201 player field en route to a $1.9 million first place prize. He defeated Isaac Haxton heads-up in a star-studded final table that also included Greg Raymer, Ted Forrest, Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo, and Alec “traheho” Torelli.
I’ve been watching poker on television for about 6-7 years now. This is the first year in that time that I haven’t watched the WSOP. There’s a lot of competition for my attention on TV, internet and real life. Additionally, poker is on a wide array of TV channels, which dilutes the marketplace and lowers desire for many to watch.
I’m not very different then the rest of America in that my attention span is short. I’m not watching many TV shows that I watched 5 years ago – if any. ESPN noticed this was coming and changed the format of the WSOP last year and added a celebrity event this year. They’re doing what they can to hold on to their viewers. I’m just not one of them.