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TelevisionWeek's new blog by World Poker Tour boss Steven Lipscomb marks this publication's second blog by a member of the television industry. As the founder of WPT, Steve often is credited with starting the televised poker boom. He's also known to say a controversial thing or two.

Just as Rich Goldfarb, senior VP of sales for National Geographic Channel, offered candid insight into the upfront advertising selling period, Steve plans to pull no punches in discussing the people, practices and pitfalls of the television business.

And remember: TVWeek.com encourages you to respond to what you read here. So feel free to post comments on Steve's blog.

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February 2007 Archives

The Art of the Deal III—Part I

February 20, 2007 12:56 PM

I just got fired by NBA Commissioner David Stern. Don’t work for him, so I suppose it’s not as bad as it sounds. …

But, in the process I gained insight into what has made David Stern one of the great success stories of our era—a highly developed sense of humor—and the intelligence to know how and when to use it.

That takes me back to the art of the deal. One element I have yet to spend time focusing on involves the ever-present intangibles in the room. And, the appropriate use of humor tops that list.

But, before we get there, I should explain how I got fired. …

I am in Las Vegas attending the NBA All-Star weekend—and thanks to the good graces of the Deputy Commissioner (a law school buddy of mine), I participated in a panel discussing sports and gambling—a particular intersection at which our company and the World Poker Tour franchise happen to reside.

Like many industries, the sports world has been impacted by the exciting, but disruptive force of the internet—in this case, online gaming/sports betting. My take was (and is) that the genie is already out of the bottle. Sports leagues that fail to recognize that and do not move into the space where it is sanctioned and legal do so at their own peril. This does not include the U.S. market (where the Justice Department has declared it illegal), but all sports franchises are beginning to realize that Thomas Friedman’s notice that the internet has flattened the world applies to them as well.

It’s like the board game, RISK. You want to get North America. It’s a great base. But, if you lose the rest of the world, you will lose the whole game. And, the next five to ten years are critical to determine who will prevail in the culture sharing wars that determine future global sports appetites.

But, that’s not why I got fired. …

In our discussion about the rules and regulations in the U.S. market, I committed what formal logicians would call the fallacy of equivocation. I mentioned that the new Unlawful Online Gaming Enforcement Act paved the way for intrastate regulation of online gaming. Which it does—for everything except sports betting outside three states (including Nevada). A follow-up question from the audience clarified that my comment was restricted to online casino games and poker.

And, for that I was fired. …in line at the buffet. And, it was done with such heart and good natured ribbing—that I am still laughing. But, the subtlety was not lost on me. Sir, Mr. Commissioner Stern was, in the way that only great mentors can, letting me know that, indeed, I should have been careful to make the distinction.

He let me know that I would not be allowed to be on any more panels today (though I was not scheduled to be on any more – and the last one was about to begin) . . .

So, for those of you who felt indignant that one might be fired for such a minor cause, fret not. At least the punishment fit the crime.

And, later (today or tomorrow), I will spend some time delving into the intangibles (like the magnetic personality and sense of humor of Commissioner David Stern), that make people want to work with you—and help drive a your business and every deal from stem to stern.

The Vice of '24'

February 2, 2007 12:41 PM


Should have made that New Year’s Resolution to blog more. . .

As to the other resolutions, I attended a yoga class in the office building health club last night – it was packed. My puzzled look produced a comment from my cohort: "New Years Resolutions." "Right!" I thought. Good for them!

Then I started wondering what I should have resolved for this year.

I resolve. . .

No more. . .

That’s when it struck me . . . I desperately need some new vices. I mean what’s the use of having this annual ritual thing without having some big things to give up. Sure, I enjoy playing miniature golf a bit more than I should, but you can’t really form much of a support group around that one . . .

So, I am going to have to make a “cause celebre” out of the one vice I seem to have these days: The Fox television show “24”.

And, talk about addictive. Rupert, save us. The more shows you make the more we have to watch. It’s that sound at the end of each act – the countdown thing. . .

And, if you rent the DVDs – four in a row. Dear God, it’s two o’clock in the morning and you can’t believe you’re pushing PLAY to watch that fourth episode. . .

Okay. So, anyone wishing to join me in the support group should contact me through the blog. . .