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WPT Season 6 to air on poker-friendly GSN
The World Poker Tour is relocating to the Game Show Network after its five-year partner, the Travel Channel, passed on the series' sixth season.
Following brief negotiations, the WPT and GSN have inked an agreement that will see 23 original two-hour episodes broadcast in Season 6.
The move comes on the heels of sagging ratings and a lawsuit stemming from the Travel Channel's decision not to air a second season of the WPT series Professional Poker Tour.
The new deal with GSN, however, promises to bring with it new promotional opportunities on a channel that is quickly becoming a leader in casino-related television.
"(The WPT) will be right in the sweet spot of our brand as a network for games," GSN CEO Rick Cronin told PokerListings.com in an interview Thursday.
"It will be a huge promotional priority. You'd have to talk to the Travel Channel people, but it didn't seem - just from watching the network and I think it's a great network - it didn't seem to get the kind of heavy promotion that we will give it on GSN," he said.
Indeed, after five years together - the WPT is set to film its hundredth episode this month - company CEO Steve Lipscomb is happy to sing the praises of the series' former home. But he also suggests that a poker tournament show and travel channel aren't a perfect pairing brand-wise.
"I think they have always wondered how poker fits," Lipscomb said of the Travel Channel. "It's just that we were so successful with them, it was hard to pass up."
The new contract with GSN means 23 original WPT episodes, each of which go for a $300,000 licensing fee. The per-episode fee will increase by 5% in future seasons and the WPT is set to receive a bonus fee of $20,000 to $30,000 per show if it exceeds agreed-upon ratings.
Under the agreement, GSN also has the exclusive option of broadcasting seventh and eighth seasons of the show.
The gaming channel doesn't, however, provide a place on its airwaves for the Professional Poker Tour, currently in limbo after only one season. The WPT program was supposed to begin filming in this year but its resuscitation on the new network isn't in the near future, said Lipscomb.
"The PPT was a great show and I hope it will have a place to exist sometime in the future," he said, "but we're mighty excited about us as a company getting to concentrate on our primary brand and growing it with this terrific new partner."
Not only will the WPT be at the forefront of GSN's promotions, it will also be featured on a Monday night lineup of other casino-related programming that includes the popular series High Stakes Poker. When the opportunity arose for a switch in networks, Lipscomb said, GSN seemed like a natural pairing.
Negotiations were settled within the matter of a couple weeks, said Cronin. Fans of the show shouldn't expect any big changes as GSN is pleased with the WPT programming, he said.