Norman Chad caught off guard by WSOP’s CBS Sports deal

Jon Pill
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Posted on: April 19, 2021 6:28 pm EDT

Caesars Entertainment, the owner of the WSOP, announced today that CBS Sports will be partnering with PokerGO to produce and broadcast the WSOP in 2021. All signs point to this deal being a long-term gig for CBS Sports. Caesars described the deal as “a new multi-year rights agreement with PokerGO as its new television partner for the World Series of Poker” in their press release.

The deal was kept pretty quiet. Even Norman Chad was caught off guard.

Chad told that he found out about the deal in the same press release as the rest of us. Does this mean he won’t be returning as co-commentator with Lon McEachern?

“In recent conversations, they have indicated we would return,” he says. “But you never know.”

The deal also sets down the parameters for 2021’s coverage. There will be fifteen hours of coverage for the Main Event. CBS will also broadcast another 36 hours of television covering an additional eighteen other bracelet events.

Where can I watch the 2021 WSOP?

The deal marks a return home for the WSOP. CBS was the first station to pick up coverage of the event back in 1973. The series later migrated to ESPN.

“CBS Sports has long been a pioneer in covering a broad range of championship sports,” said Ty Stewart, the Executive Director of the WSOP. “We couldn’t be more excited to see increased television coverage of the WSOP in the coming years and benefit from their growing media platforms.”

The exact implications of the new deal are yet to be hammered out. With that said, it doesn’t feel like a great sign that ESPN was unwilling to fight to keep the WSOP in its corral.

“Following our past success with PokerGO, we are excited to expand our relationship with the highest-profile and richest event in competitive tournament poker featuring the best players in the world,” said Dan Weinberg, Executive Vice President of Programming, CBS Sports. “This deal fits perfectly in our strategy to combine best-in-class events with our CBS Sports brand.” 

Further details are still pending. One of the most important is the question of who will get to air the live stream. Or if there will even be a live stream.

CBS has its own TV streaming service, CBSAllAccess. And as part of the ViacomCBS group, CBS Sport’s shows are also available to Paramount+.

In the last few years — if one ignores the outlier that is 2020 — PokerGO aired unedited live broadcasts of dozens of final tables. In fact, the live streams are one of the major chunks of value that subscribers get for their 180-bucks a year. If they lose that, they may find this deal cuts harder one way than the other.

Featured image source: Caesar’s Entertainment