ESPN Dropping Poker Programming, Ads After Gov't Crackdown On Online Poker
ESPN "will remove poker advertising and programming after the U.S. indicted gambling websites that sponsor televised tournaments and froze their bank accounts," according to Andy Fixmer of BLOOMBERG NEWS. The network said in a statement, "For the immediate future, we are making efforts to remove related advertising and programming pending further review." ESPN Senior VP/Corporate Communications Chris LaPlaca said that the network "declined to elaborate beyond its statement." The U.S. government Friday "froze bank accounts in 14 countries and seized websites, sidelining online poker sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker -- major sponsors of televised tournaments." ESPN's poker content includes the World Series of Poker and the North American Poker Tour (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 4/19). ESPN Poker's Andrew Feldman "clarified that the upcoming World Series of Poker will still air on ESPN." The contract between ESPN and PokerStars is "said to be worth" $22M (BLUFFMAGAZINE.com, 4/18). BLUFF magazine's Lance Bradley reported ESPN has "removed the PokerStars sponsored Inside Deal from the ESPN.com website," and the ESPN Poker Club, which was powered by PokerStars, is "no longer available for download" (BLUFFMAGAZINE.com, 4/16). MEDIABISTRO's Cam Martin notes ESPN "has been a chief facilitator of the sport's spike in popularity over the last decade" (MEDIABISTRO.com, 4/19). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Ben Koo writes, "I'd imagine you'll see Fox, CBS, and NBC/Comcast all follow suit in the coming days" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 4/19).