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A report from Multichannel News last week revealed that Poker Central is shutting down their broadcast TV network and going in a new direction. This new direction is focusing on millennial desires for increased content on both legacy and original fronts.

The change in focus by the company isn’t completely surprising considering they made an announcement back in September regarding the future of digital programming at the company.

With that said, the company looks to be positioning themselves to be a successful player in both broadcast and digital venue despite shutting down the TV network.

Poker Community Should Have Seen Change Coming Following September Announcement

Back in September, Poker Central issued a press release announcing they were going all-in on digital programming. At the time, the majority of the poker media probably assumed that the digital content was in addition to the TV network rather than a replacement.

However, with the changes of the viewing habits of not just the poker public but of TV viewers in general, we probably should have seen this change coming. As such, this isn’t a “sudden shift” for the company but rather a planned evolution.

Poker Central Shifts Focus to Social Media and Mobile Efforts

Poker Central President Joe Kakaty told Multichannel News that the company was shutting down their TV channel because they discovered they were better at social media and mobile focused efforts than they were in competing in the highly competitive cable-network field.

While this sounds ominous on the surface, the reality isn’t that dire. In fact, it will likely result in a better product in the future. The main difference is that instead of a digital network stream, users will have access to “on demand” content from the company.

What this means is that you will still be able to watch Pokerography, Super High Roller Bowl episodes and all the other content available on the network, but whenever you want from the Poker Central App or their website. The network plans to increase these offerings in the future.

In addition, the network may be going away but the company will still have television prescience. Programs such as the Super High Roller Bowl and Celebrity Shootout will be broadcast on media partners such as CBS Sports Network. These programs performed well over the last two years, so it makes sense to continue with what works.

Poker Central Has the Right Pieces to Be Successful On New Path

Anyone that has read my articles about Poker Central over the last year understands that I am very positive about the product. Frankly, it has been one of the few poker-related developments over the last couple of years that I have been able to fully endorse. With that said, when the channel first launched, I did have reservations due to the fact that the channel at the time was only available online.

A poker TV network that wasn’t on a cable or satellite network seemed too “Netflixish” to me. Then when they were able to get on a couple of cable providers, my concerns were a bit eased but I still wanted to see them pop up on Dish. (Yes, I have Dish Network.)

With that said, I now understand how a digital pivot strategy can work for the company based on a recent realization in my own life. The other night, I spent about an hour downloading episodes of a particular program and it struck me that I hadn’t turned on the TV in my office for anything other than using it as a second computer screen for about a month.

All of my television viewing has been done via digital media. I have a subscription to Netflix and and I have “other methods” for checking out programs I wish to see.

I have two young boys with whom I watch at least once a week and with the exception of the Super Bowl, I don’t think they have watch a standard TV program this year. Everything has been digitally streamed.

Poker Central’s new strategy is just an extension of what we have seen in the poker industry over the last couple of years. Just about every major event has streaming of one type or another. Even Poker Night in America has a stream that many players check out long before the program is televised.

Then you have those that are streaming live content on a daily basis on Twitch. Poker fans don’t even need to watch a standard “poker show” to get hours of live poker content or “poker entertainment.” Poker Central understands this and is positioning themselves to take advantage of that trend.

They are also smart enough to realize that there is still a market for standard televised poker broadcasts if they are entertaining and engaging. Shows like the Super High Roller Bowl were praised for the high quality production value and many of us enjoyed the series much more than even the WSOP Main Event.

Time will tell whether Poker Central will be successful with this new strategy but from the looks of things, they are retaining the best of what worked for televised broadcasts and using it to supplement their digital media strategy. This recipe should produce a successful product that poker fans around the world will enjoy.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.