Is Live Tournament Reporting Destined to go the way of the Dodo?

TAGs: Live tournament, WSOP

Lee Davy opines over the future of handwritten live tournament reporting as the media outlet of choice for live tournament organizers.

Is Live Tournament Reporting Destined to go the way of the Dodo?This isn’t a cliffhanger.

It isn’t a Sixth Sense moment.

What I am about to say might not be knew to you, but here it goes anyway.

I believe that live tournament reporting is going to end up the same way as the Dodo. I feel like a bone handled knife will cut its throat, blood will flow at a gallop, and then a stumble, and then we will be in the company of the dead.

Twitch will be holding the knife.

It will look black in the moonlight.

When I first came into poker live reporting was a Godsend. It was the only way that I could pay my bills. But it was stymied progress. I felt like I was walking through quicksand. I had to get out, but I just couldn’t do it. I needed the money.

I hope I am wrong I really do. So many people rely on this income. But live streaming is raising hell. The way we are digesting media is changing so quickly. Live reporting will soon be partitioned with the Betamax section in Blockbusters.

This thought has nagged me for a while, like a fly flitting around at the back of my skull. The recent decision by the World Series of Poker (WSOP) to offer the live reporting contract for the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE), to PokerFirma, got those cogs whirring again.

I reached out to Seth Palansky, Vice President Corporate Communications, Caesars Interactive Entertainment, to ask him why the WSOP chose to hand the coverage of their premier European product to the relatively inexperienced German media outlet.

“We anticipate 80-85% of the players will be German. As such, it was very important to us that we provided the majority of the audience with a German-language version and that was the priority. PokerFirma is well-respected and long-standing member of the German poker community. They know the players, and that is crucial to covering poker events.” Said Palansky. “Yes, the English version feed will be substandard as a result and that is part of the tradeoff. We also looked at North American time zones and didn’t anticipate a huge audience for live reporting as a result of the differences. We’ve analyzed data from previous European based tournaments we’ve done to understand the traffic flow and countries of the reader.”

The WSOPE was first launched in 2007. For the first four years the tournament series was held in London, and PokerNews were contracted to provide for an English speaking live reporting outfit.

In 2011, 2012 & 2013 the series was held in France. French poker media is always heavily present in events that feature Winamax and PMU sponsored players, and these events were no exception – but the WSOP still had contracts in place for reputable English speakers and writers to provide coverage of the events in English.

So, I think this is a first. But not a first that should surprise any of us. Although we have become so used to having live updates appear, as if by magic, on our PokerNews app, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the service provides the live tournament organizer with enough value to cover costs.

Plus, times are changing.

“We’ve invested heavily in live streaming. And the truth of the matter today is that the audience much prefers to see the video version of events as they unfold, much more so than written hand recaps.” Said Palansky. “We’re bringing a full video and graphics production team using the high standards of the summer WSOP and will have final table coverage wall to wall for the first 8 bracelet events with broad exposure on the homepage of Twitch and on”

Poker got a shot in the arm when Alex Dreyfus and the team at Mediarex Sports & Entertainment announced plans to launch the Global Poker League in Q1 2016. The announcement was met with universal approval throughout poker’s social media outlets.

The coverage of the Global Poker League is going to turn poker from a  game into a sport, and then it’s going to take that sport and elevate it to a level of media exposure never before seen in this industry.

In his press release, Dreyfus talked about the importance of covering every event via livestream, and even selling tickets to watch the events live, as well as contracting out for television coverage.

But there was no word on the live reporting.

I am sure it will come, but it doesn’t carry the importance that it once did.

Seth Palansky sums it up for me when he says: “Poker information is evolving. What may have been the norm for a poker tournament in 2005, isn’t what serves our audience best in 2015.”

This week Poker Update created the TV’s Most Memorable Hands promotion. It got me thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Then I realized, I am not thinking. I switch on my computer every day, search for a relevant story and then write about it.

This same lackadaisical attitude is why live reporting has not changed one iota since I joined the industry over five years ago. There are so many ways that live coverage of an event can be transmitted to the eyes and ears of those that can’t make it to the event. Handwritten blog updates are ok, but who wants ok?

The live reporting format needs shaking up, and with live streaming becoming ever popular with outlets, and the WSOP deciding that they don’t need a top notch English blog at the upcoming WSOPE – the time to change is now.


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