The WPT is set to return to screens across the U.S. for an eighth season, as announced yesterday by the Fox Sports Network. Positive ratings for Season I reruns and the currently airing Season VII have convinced Fox executives to commit to a new series of 26 hour-long episodes.
Fox’s confidence in the World Poker Tour was underlined by FSN Executive Vice President George Greenburg when he announced that “The World Poker Tour has a loyal and passionate fan base that has made the WPT one of the most popular programs on FSN.” Under the new deal, FSN has exclusive rights to air the shows in the United States. Greenberg added that they were “thrilled to be airing Season 8 and look forward to another great year of WPT championship poker.”
The WPT has had a tough few months, which began when the Game Show Network declined its exclusive option to air Season VII. A new contract with the FSN provided a glimmer of hope, but, under the strain of the UIGEA, profits have been falling. Most ominously, they face the threat of being delisted from the NASDAQ if they cannot raise their share price above $1.
Given their recent troubles, WPT representatives were delighted with the news. WPT Founder, President and CEO Steve Lipscomb said that “Fox Sports Net and News Corporation have far exceeded our partnership expectations and we are thrilled to continue growing our strategic relationship.” FSN has 16 regional stations and transmits programming into over 80 million U.S. homes.
Filming for Season VIII is expect to commence in the summer, with airing dates yet to be decided. The current season of the WPT is currently at the Commerce Casino for the L.A. Poker Classic. This will be followed by tournaments at Bay 101 and Foxwoods, before the $25,000 WPT Championship event at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.