PokerNews Speaks Out About Loss of WSOP Live Updates

1

In recent days, word broke that PokerNews would no longer be providing exclusive live updates of the World Series of Poker. Instead, WSOP officials will take on the task of providing live updates themselves. We’ve heard the WSOP’s side of the story from Vice President Seth Palansky. Now, PocketFives sat down with Matt Parvis (pictured), Chief Creative Office of iBus Media, which owns PokerNews, to get his take on the world of live reporting, what happened regarding the 2015 WSOP, and the future of the My Stack app.

PocketFives: Talk about the financial relationship PokerNews has for covering live events.

Matt Parvis: If you do a little bit of math on what it costs to send people to locations around the world with fights, hotels, meals, and a fair wage for what is quite frankly a grueling, 15-hour-a-day job, it adds up really quickly. Affiliate revenues don’t cover those costs and there are no big mainstream sponsors that are able to cover it.

For each event, we put together a proposal saying how much the event will cost to produce. We add in the amounts it’ll cost for the backend along with things like airfare, salaries, and hotel. We have a number we work out with our partner tournaments. As part of that, they receive additional marketing like banners and sponsored blog posts.

The WSOP has always been a different relationship for us than a lot of our other reporting clients because of the grandeur of the event and the history PokerNews has had in it. Hats off to Tony G – he has always been a big supporter of the WSOP and the belief that we needed to have a big presence there. If we were losing money, it wasn’t quite as big of a deal to Tony on items like the WSOP.

PocketFives: Does PokerNews make money off live reporting?

Matt Parvis: Yes, we earn revenue, but all of that revenue goes into the product. We aren’t profiteering off live reporting.

PocketFives: What happened with the WSOP this year?

Matt Parvis: When the WSOP became an online poker operator, we knew it would change the relationship. If you go back a few years, our WSOP coverage was sponsored by PokerStars. The WSOP was originally in a position where they didn’t want to pay for coverage; news outlets would pay them. We were in a position where we didn’t lose a lot of money by bringing in PokerStars as a sponsor.

Over the years, WSOP began to see the value in PokerNews and our live reporting. It was one thing they didn’t have to worry about. As the industry started contracting and budgets got smaller, WSOP started chipping in to help subsidize the coverage.

We’ve always proposed to the WSOP the same essential number that it would take to cover our expenses. Our team at the WSOP is usually between 30 and 50 freelancers and employees. It’s an all-encompassing production. They need to be in Las Vegas for six or seven weeks and need to be housed, fed, and paid. All we wanted to do was make sure we weren’t losing money by covering the WSOP.

What ended up happening in previous years is that PokerNews and WSOP would settle on a number we were comfortable with, but we’d go out and sell sponsorships to make sure we weren’t the biggest loser at the WSOP. It’s a big commitment and a big risk we take every year. We had to make up the difference between what WSOP paid us to cover expenses and what our expenses actually were.

Last year, we were able to offer WSOP.com a sponsorship in Nevada. Being that other operators see WSOP as a competitor, it was much more difficult to obtain outside sponsorships to subsidize the rest of our costs. We came in this year wanting to make sure our costs were covered. If we couldn’t get our costs covered, then we were going to take a different route. That’s what ended up happening.

It’s something that’s a little bittersweet now. We’re excited that WSOP will take on this challenge themselves and we’ll offer our full support. We are definitely hoping a lot of the people producing live reporting this year are the same guys and girls we’ve had in the past.

The amount we asked the WSOP for this year to provide coverage was the same as it was in years past. The difference is what we were willing to take to cover our full costs.

PocketFives: How big of an impact will the loss of exclusive live coverage have on PokerNews?

Matt Parvis: I think there will be an impact, but I don’t think it’ll be a panic situation. We’re going to have a big footprint at the WSOP. We are PokerNews and we’ll still be covering it to the best of our ability. We won’t have the flexibility to do live updates, but we generally do a lot outside of live reporting that helps us become a daily destination for poker players. Fans and players have a natural reaction to check out PokerNews every day.

PocketFives: Will we still see PokerNews pushing the My Stack app?

Matt Parvis: Yes! In the past, we have reserved My Stack to events that PokerNews was physically present at. We’re hoping to release an updated version of My Stack in the next couple of weeks to make it more accessible. We want to make My Stack available to players in WPT events and mid-stakes major events, for example. It’s a really fun experience when you’re at a poker tournament to tell your friends and family to follow your updates on PokerNews and My Stack and we’re looking to grow that.

Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.

1 COMMENT

  1. The WSOP will quite likely try (again) the live subscription route … good luck. PokerNews has a level of expertise and player familiarity that the WSOP will be very hard-pressed to duplicate. The WSOP ‘masters-of-the-universe’ business model to monopolize the news feed seems fine until the WSOP wakes up and realize that they have pissed off (unnecessarily) a major poker news conduit.I will stick with PokerNews who I know work hard and deliver the facts laced with hard-won knowledge of players elsewhere in the world.