“Is PokerGO the Netflix of poker?”
It’s a question that mainstream news outlets are asking about the burgeoning $10-a-month poker streaming service introduced by Poker Central earlier this month.
That suits Poker Central VP of Content Sam Simmons just fine.
“We’re flattered to see that comparison,” said Simmons.
“Netflix was one of the first companies to prove that a digital content model could succeed.”
As a poker fan it’s hard not to be excited for a single subscription-based service that gives customers access to live tournaments like Poker Central’s own Super High Roller Bowl and the World Series of Poker in addition to poker TV favorites like Poker After Dark.
There’s never been anything quite like it.
Poker an “Underserved” Market
According to Simmons, PokerGO, which is available in browser and app form, had been in development for quite some time with the goal of introducing it during the prestigious Super High Roller Bowl at Aria.
“The idea to create PokerGO was two-fold, “explained Simmons.
“One, poker is an under-served market in terms of live, broadcast-quality entertainment with high production value. Two, the industry trend of skinny bundles taking the place of traditional pay TV packages.
“As “cord cutters” and “cord nevers” enter the market, delivering the best live and on-demand programming poker has to offer will appeal to both the most dedicated grinders and casual fans alike.”
This year’s SHRB had the added bonus of mega-star comedian Kevin Hart who provided a unique perspective on the normally stoic group of high-stakes legends that take part in the $300k buy-in event.
“The results thus far have surpassed our expectations – we’re pleased to see that fans see value in paying for premium, niche content,” he said.
Full Speed Ahead to WSOP Coverage
With the Super High Roller Bowl nearly finished the service will move on to the long-running WSOP.
This is the first year that the WSOP is contracting out the live stream and Simmons is excited about the potential for games other than No-Limit Hold'em.
“We’re looking forward to delivering a hefty slate of WSOP events through the summer, along with mixed games and Pot-Limit Omaha, which will also be streamed during the WSOP,” he said.
PokerGO will also offer extra coverage of the Main Event. Specifically PokerGO will be able to show anything that ESPN doesn’t broadcast, which is something poker fans have been requesting for many years.
One interesting aspect about PokerGO is that it’s completely region-lock free. Everyone in the world gets access to the same content. This is something that has challenged streaming giants like Netflix.
It’s particularly important for poker, which has become a global game over the last 10-15 years.
“One of the key lessons we learned last year during the live broadcast of the Super High Roller Bowl on CBS Sports Network was that we needed an additional method of meeting the intense demand from fans around the globe,” said Simmons.
“It’s very important to us to deliver our content globally, and PokerGO provides that capability.”
Potential Cash Game Show in the Future
While the PokerGO rollout has been incredibly positive there is one potential obstacle in the future: Will subscribers stick around once events like the SHRB and WSOP are finished for the year?
Simmons is confident PokerGO will be able to offer a package that's compelling enough that viewers will opt for the yearly fee instead of monthly.
“PokerGO is a year-round live poker service,” he said.
“We have a significant slate of live events and other programming planned that will be rolling out after the WSOP to provide value to our subscribers for twelve months out of the year.”
The cash-game niche is one, in particular, that Simmons would like to see filled.
“When you look back at some of the most popular poker programming of all-time, high-stakes poker is a common denominator – one of the many reasons the Super High Roller Bowl is so special,” he said.
“Since we’ve checked the box for hosting some of the best tournaments possible, what about cash games? There’s still more events in that space we’re really exploring, along with classic poker shows and different types of poker events and formats.”
Incidentally PokerListings recently ranked 36 of the famous poker TV shows and High Stakes Poker took the number one spot.
PokerGO Only One Piece of the Puzzle
Simmons went on to say the company has several high-profile projects set up for the future but for the time being they’re focusing on the WSOP.
“We’re really looking forward to bringing poker to a new generation of poker fans throughout the world with consistent delivery of high-quality content,” he said.
“The PokerGO product itself is only a piece of this puzzle, though, as we will reach both current and potential fans through complementary TV deals with industry leaders, such as ESPN and NBC Sports Network.”
PokerGO currently retails for $10-a-month or $99 for a full year. You can learn more about the service on the PokerGO home page.