The long-held rumours that The Stars Group owned PokerNews has been partly revealed as true after iBus Media held a company-wide conference call this morning to discuss a potential acquisition strategy.
In 2015, Red Crow Marketing estimated that companies intrude on the average American firing between 4,000 to 10,000 adverts at them per day. The most prominent companies in the world spend billions of dollars on marketing, and they do so because it works.
If you control the media, you control the people.
And so it’s disturbing, but no secret, to learn that The Stars Group owns a large majority of iBus Media, or the name we all know: PokerNews.
According to a post published on PokerNews today, iBus Media declared that the past few years have been as soothing as talcum powder on a baby’s bum. The poker media outlet has seen steady growth leading to increased revenue and headcount.
This growth has resulted in the company actively considering an acquisition strategy, and with this in mind iBus chiefs felt the time was right to confirm the rumours that The Stars Group has their hand right up the crack of their ass.
Tony G created PokerNews in 2002 after purchasing the domain name for $6,000. In the ensuing years, regional PokerNews sites have sprung up globally to support the .com hub.
PokerNews today confirmed that Tony G began selling his equity to PokerStars in 2010 before exiting the company. The article cited The Stars Group as owning a large majority of the business, before going on to stress they have always maintained an arms-length relationship with the Stars Group, and to put things into context PokerStars and its associated brands currently represent less than 5% of iBus’s affiliate revenues.
“iBus has always maintained its independence and will continue to do so,” wrote iBus Media Director Jon Squires.
I have to disagree with the arms-length statement, and I won’t be alone.
For a very long time, it was clear to all and sundry that PokerNews was placing heavy emphasis on PokerStars and their ambassadors. Their relationship with the European Poker Tour (EPT) skewed this bias where, as a live reporter, I was told to place particular emphasis on PokerStars players.
As well as being instructed to focus on PokerStars players, I was also told to put less focus on the competition.
But PokerNews wasn’t alone in this madness. And it is madness to write a blog post involving a World Poker Tour (WPT) Champions Club member while omitting that valuable piece of information. I worked for the World Series of Poker (WSOP), and the World Poker Tour (WPT) and the same lines of communication were clear – do not mention other brands.
More recently, I’ve witnessed a refreshing change in emphasis on brand neutrality, with writers given the freedom to mention competing brands when live reporting,
and this is a good thing for the consumer because it conveys a deeper insight into what is very often a tedious hand analysis.
Away from the live reporting and into the general poker news domain and I had formed the opinion that The Stars Group had sold their equity to 888Poker. The number of 888Poker related marketing campaigns and articles has increased considerably in the past year. The only online poker room that PokerNews doesn’t seem to fancy is partypoker, but the way the John Duthie and co are going about their business they may, just force the issue.
Now PokerNews has admitted the rumours were partially right. It will be interesting to see what other connected news stories surface in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, you have to admit; it was a smart piece of business by PokerStars, in an industry that has no framework to prevent what is primarily a terrible thing for the consumers.