There were a lot of changes in the wake of Black Friday, but one of the most prominent was the drop in televised poker coverage. Big productions cost money and with income drying up costs had to be cut. Out went the beautifully produced poker shows, but the poker fans had not gone anywhere. There needed to be a more cost effective solution and so live streaming over the Internet became the next viable option.
Ian Langstaff is the man in charge at WinMedia Radio and TV Software Solutions, the crew behind the live streaming of the World Poker Tour (WPT). Langstaff and his crew were on hand at Cyprus to create the set for the final table of the bwin WPT Merit Cyprus Classic, despite still having stitches in his stomach from a hernia operation. Now that’s what I call dedication.
“Our role at WinMedia is to provide the live stream coverage for every non-televised WPT event. We televise some of their main production, put the live graphics on and send that out to the viewers at home with hole card coverage running on a 30-minute delay for security purposes. Security is so tight that in some of the casinos in the States I am not allowed into the hole card room otherwise I could get locked up in the casino jail for 30-minutes.” Said Langstaff.
WinMedia has a tough job because in order for their product to be delivered as pristine as they would like, their other partners – such as the casino – also need to be on point. They can’t carry their Internet capacity with them for example. So what are some of the main issues that WinMedia face when trying to produce a live stream.
“The main issues are the last minute changes. It doesn’t matter how much we prepare we always have someone who wants to change something. One of the biggest scares is a change of IP address, which happened in Borgata recently, but things have evolved. It started when we used to go into casinos and they had no bandwidth. These days’ things are getting better and its taken time to get casinos into the swing of operating with a live stream, but they are getting there. We used to do all the big TV events for PartyPoker and 888, and they were big budgets, but they all went with Black Friday. I was faced with a decision about how I would take WinMedia forward and I believe that the future is the live stream with more interaction with the viewers.
“This year, at the Irish Open, we recorded all the hole cards, showed the viewers the live coverage and then during the break we showed the viewers the main hands with hole cards. The feedback we received was the players and viewers loved it. Jesse May, myself and a lot of other people believe that approach is better than hole cards with a 30-minute delay.
In 2005 we did the Irish Open live but it costs a lot more money, and since Black Friday we have to do a lot less work for a lot less money.”
Don’t we all Ian…don’t we all.