By: Paul Hewson
It’s 2017, and we’re talking about television. Even the word itself seems old-timey now. But if all goes according to plan, there will be a new poker channel in the New Year: PokerVision Network (PVN), with operations in Calgary and Toronto. PVN hopes to launch as a digital cable channel in the first half of 2017, bringing a mix of poker, E-Sports, and gaming content in general to homes across Canada.
It just might work. Television production may be a sunset industry, but the folks at PVN have learned something from the demise of Poker Central, which shut down its channel at the end of 2016 after barely a year in business. Poker Central launched with very little new content; by the time they had some original programming to offer, it was already too late. PVN will focus on live coverage of poker tournaments, with a healthy dose of “reality” programs and other content. Opening up the platform to eSports and sports betting should attract more customers, too.
The Medium Is the Message
If television is good for anything these days, it’s live programming – especially sports. But is it the networks running the show, or the teams themselves? Consider the Toronto Blue Jays, owned by Rogers Communications, playing out of Rogers Centre, and broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet. Oh, and Rogers also owns 37.5% of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors, as well as the Air Canada Centre in which they perform.
Again, PVN may succeed here with a similar model. Remember the Canadian Poker Tour (CPT)? Expect to see their return in 2017; CPT founder Kelly Kellner happens to be part of the new network, as does his mother, Lynne Kellner, who was named the director of ePlay Digital (the company behind PVN) in November. Lynne Kellner was a producer with CBC Sports for 25 years. She knows a thing or two.
It remains to be seen whether PVN will actually appear on your cable box (if you still have one), or if they’ll punt and keep their presence online. But as long as all this effort leads to the creation of more live poker tournaments in Canada, it’ll be good news for players and fans alike – whatever screen it ends up being shown on.