PokerGO is getting ready for a big second half of 2021, according to their president Mori Eskandani. In a recent interview, Eskandani explained that the poker content streaming platform is wound up tight and ready to go. They put so many of their productions on hold during COVID. The result is that their roster has got a ton of series on it that are all eagerly waiting for new installments.
Eskandani said that he is anticipating that the “second half of this year is going to be the busiest time for PokerGO we’ve ever had.”
He then added: “I have a feeling the cameras are never going to shut down for us to catch up with what we missed and produce what we are capable of doing.”
Among the multi-table tournament shows, Eskandani specifically name-checked for return were: Super High Roller Bowl, Poker Masters and U.S. Poker Open.
What you catch in Vegas…
The streaming platform will be taking advantage of Vegas’s pattern of early opening in order to stack its broadcast schedule. The assumption is that the new U.S. administration will start to show progress on the pandemic, mostly just by being both competent and by taking COVID seriously,
The vaccine rollout, the greater enforcement of mask wearing, and a more co-ordinated pandemic response all provide hope. If they work, it will give live poker events some much needed stability. For the last year, the threat of cancellation has hung over every live event. That’s tough on tournament venues, but for TV production it has been fatal.
“We were all geared up to have our biggest year in 2020. Then we got hit with this semi-truck like every other business out there,” Eskandani said.
We can probably thank the dearth of broadcastable tournaments for the latest seasons of High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark. Both shows were resurrected in 2020. And both shows are single table affairs with a limited number of participants and easily controlled sets.
These factors are appealing to a TV studio working in a pandemic. Especially when their entire slate is made up of shows about poker. Almost no other game is more perfectly designed for disease transmission.
PokerGO has had a year of working around pandemic restrictions. But it’s not just that these restrictions might be lifted soon that is driving Eskandani’s enthusiasm. It’s also that online poker saw a huge revival in 2020. Spring of 2020 saw a massive spike in the number of players online. It’s been a while since we saw such dramatic changes in traffic, possibly not since Moneymaker won his first bracelet in 2003.
Partly the 2020 spike in poker’s popularity is due to a reframing of business practices.
2020 was the year that every site really knuckled down on attracting recreational players.
It also didn’t hurt the industry when the entire world suddenly had to switch to purely indoor hobbies. Then layoffs and the crashing economy drove many people in search of a side hustle. And it drove many side hustlers to turn pro. That all adds to the number of player hours for the year.
“It’s just the mindset of the whole nation and for that matter the whole world when it comes to online gambling and online sports betting,” Eskandani said, assessing this new outlook. “And poker just comes right along with all of that. So there is no question that this is going in the right direction. All we have to do now is make sure we move as fast as everything else.”
In previous years PokerGO had dozens of hours of edited content (and hundreds of hours of live streaming content) from the WSOP’s live events alone.
This year, the whole WSOP slate went over to GGPoker’s Twitch channel. The notable exception being the enormously unpopular and controversial Hybrid Main Event, a table scrap that PokerGO got to snap up.
In late 2021, we can look forward to more of that live content returning to PokerGO. Along with more potential viewers than ever. And with that, PokerGO may get to return to its pre-pandemic place in the poker media pantheon.
Featured image source: Twitter