The World Series of Poker’s ESPN era has come to an end and the world’s longest running poker tournament has returned to its roots.
On Monday, CBS Sports and PokerGO announced a brand new multi-year rights agreement that sees the WSOP leave ESPN, its television home for more than 20 years, and move to the the CBS family beginning in 2021.
Beginning with this year’s WSOP, CBS Sports Network becomes “the exclusive domestic television home of the WSOP” and will feature 15 hours of the 2021 WSOP Main Event as well as another 36 hours of 18 other bracelet events according to a press release issued by the network.
“CBS Sports has long been a pioneer in covering a broad range of championship sports,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “We couldn’t be more excited to see increased television coverage of the WSOP in the coming years and benefit from growing media platforms.”
While the announcement marks the end of the WSOP’s partnership with ESPN, which began in 1987 with the first of Johnny Chan‘s back-to-back titles, it also marks the return of the WSOP to their original broadcast home. In 1973, CBS broadcast an hour-long special as part of their CBS Sports Spectacular which featured highly edited recap-style show of the Main Event final table.
In 2019, the WSOP, through PokerGO, partnered with CBS for 25 days of streaming of non-Main Event bracelet events on CBS All Access, the company’s streaming product at the time. CBS Sports Network also aired 25 highlights of bracelet events on their network, while the Main Event stayed on ESPN.
“Following our past success with PokerGO, we are excited to expand our relationship with the highest-profile and richest event in competitive tournament poker featuring the best players in the world,” said Dan Weinberg, Executive Vice President of Programming, CBS Sports. “This deal fits perfectly in our strategy to combine best-in-class events with our CBS Sports brand.”
CBS All Access was re-branded as Paramount+ earlier this year. The release indicated plans for the WSOP to be part of the Paramount+ product offering. More details, including the potential return of longtime broadcast team Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.