|Capitalising on the game's increasing popularity, a group of former BSkyB executives have launched a new UK digital satellite channel dedicated to poker programming.|
Piqued by series such as the Celebrity Poker Club and the rise of online casinos, The Poker Channel, which went live on March 23, has been set up by former Sky Ventures commercial manager Crispin Nieboer, former head of Sky Music Chiara Cipriani and Sky producer James Hopkins.
The station will rely on originated programming, rather than attempting to compete with the likes of Flextech-owned Challenge for rights to Celebrity Poker Club, or Discovery for the World Poker Tour.
In the UK, indie Luckbox is producing three (16x30') series, Bar Beat, Up Close and Poker Godfather. Zeal TV has secured an order for Barny's Home Game (13x60'), featuring Hendon mobster Barny Boatman. US producer Artist Tribe, meanwhile, is behind a fly-on-the-wall documentary series called Beyond the Felt (13x30').
The channel will initially air between 14.00 and 01.00 but Nieboer said playout would reach 24 hours a day by May when the tournament reaches its climax.
While heavyweight sponsors and advertisers from the world of online casinos and beyond have already come onboard, The Poker Channel will also look to alternative revenue streams from mobile phones, offering a range of competitions, games, voting and on-screen chat.
‘The main problem with what's out there at the moment is that its very samey, not made for the UK market and there's not enough live programming,’ said CEO Crispin Nieboer ‘We think we can do as well, if not better than the World Poker Tour. Live is the next big thing to happen in poker.’