‘World Series of Poker’ Gets HD Upgrade

Apr 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Seeing the flop is about to get a little easier.

ESPN’s popular summer coverage of the “World Series of Poker” is being upgraded to high-definition, sources familiar with the decision said.

Starting in July, 32 hours of coverage will be presented in HD for the first time. The coverage will include the main Texas Hold ‘Em event as well as other World Series events. The tiny “hole-card cam” that briefly shows what each player is holding most likely be unconverted.

The upgrade makes “WSOP” the first regular poker series to be produced in HD.

ESPN also announced this week that it will upgrade its morning shows “Mike and Mike” and “Cold Pizza” to the HD format.

“Pizza” will move from its current radio studio home to ESPN’s HD studio in Bristol, Conn, and will be renamed “ESPN First Take.”

ESPN previously said it would have about the same number of HD hours this year as in 2006. However, the upgrades boost that figure to at least 9,000, setting ESPN on course to have another record year of HD programming growth.

ESPN has broadcast “WSOP” since 1993. The event really took off in 2003 when the network added the hole-card camera and amateur Chris Moneymaker won the top prize. Every year since, the network has increased the number of production hours dedicated to the event. ESPN has an agreement to air “WSOP” through 2010.

Poker programming has been embraced by cable networks in recent years because it dependably delivers male viewers and is inexpensive to produce. As with most reality programming, networks generally do not spring for the added cost of HD for poker, as that would negate one of the major draws of having the programming in the first place. But ESPN has more HD production equipment and facilities than any other network and “WSOP” is one of its tentpole summer events.

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