American Poker Displays Impressive Signs Of Recovery

US PokerAmerican poker is not doomed – no matter what you may have heard and read over the past few months.

With the World Series of Poker (WSOP) of 2011 looking set to attract an all-time high entry field in Las Vegas – despite the gloomy predictions – and legislation surely on the way to make it easier and safer to play the world’s greatest game, even better news has arrived for poker’s administrators.

With numerous online poker sites – including PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker – shut down by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in April, there were major concerns that poker in the USA would fizzle out.

On the contrary, though, figures released by New York-based Nielsen Media Research (NMR) prove that interest in poker in the United States has reached a new high on the Fox Sports Network (FSN) with a 35% viewer increase for World Poker Tour (WPT) televised matches.

It is crucial that figures show an increase as NMR calculations play a vital role as the deciding factor in whether TV shows are axed or renewed by networks.

These Nielsen Ratings really cannot be underestimated as NMR – which measures media audiences in television, radio, theatre, films and newspapers – announced that the WPT season IX household rating jumped from .52 to .70, with the average number of weekly viewers hitting 669,000.

Even more impressive, however, is that – during the past 11 weeks – the WPT has witnessed an even larger leap, with average weekly viewing figures up a massive 50% on last season to make the WPT show the top-rated programme on FSN.

A WPT spokesperson pointed out that chief executive officer Steve Heller and president Adam Pliska believed they had to make major changes to the WPT for season nine, and these modifications included making the show more ‘YES’ attractive – or Younger, Edgier and Sexier.

And it seems these changes have resulted in a massive upsurge in the audience’s enjoyment of the WPT and, most importantly, viewing figures.

Broadcast every Sunday evening, the WPT’s mixture of new talent, additional segments, more apparent theme music, fresh graphics and a revitalised approach to action coverage have resulted in considerable viewer increases and improved attention from new audience members.

Season nine has seven more episodes scheduled and will cover four of the tour’s best events with several million dollars still available, so it will be interesting to see how those positive figures hold up.