When networks develop a television schedule, they often look for series that will appeal to a wide demographic. Shows about poker only attract a niche viewership, but if the program is attractive enough, it can draw a large enough audience to be worth airing. That’s exactly what seems to be going through the heads of the directors at GSN (formerly Game Show Network) as they recently launched a survey on the topic of the network’s former series, High Stakes Poker.
Certain poker shows are certain to be huge hits. The World Series of Poker on ESPN and the World Poker Tour on FSN come instantly to mind. Back in the day – prior to the Black Friday of Online Poker, to be more exact – High Stakes Poker had a considerable following, as did other popular poker television series like NBC’s Poker After Dark (2007-2011) and the Fox Network’s PokerStars Big Game (2010-2011). Once the US government cracked down on major offshore poker operators like PokerStars and Full Tilt, American viewers seemed to lose interest in these types of broadcasts.
Now that online poker is back in three states, having been legalized in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey last year, GSN is clearly taking another look at the potential for a reprisal of High Stakes Poker. For the five years the show ran (2006-2011), it featured some of the biggest names in professional poker history, including the legendary Doyle Brunson, record holding 13x WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Erick Lindgren, Phil Ivey, Mike Matusow, Sam Fahra, Eli Elezra, Jamie Gold, Jennifer Harman, Barry Goldstein, the list goes on and on.
Poker may be considered a sport, but it certainly does attract massive viewership like American football, baseball, basketball, etc. That’s because there’s no intense athleticism taking place. Thus grabbing the attention of poker’s niche audience is the key to success in a television series of High Stakes Poker’s nature. Just recently, GSN appeared to be testing the waters to see just how many people would be interested in a revival of the poker show.
The survey, which was offered on GSN’s YouTube channel, asked poker enthusiasts and former fans of High Stakes Poker a series of questions relating to what they liked about the show, and what might harvest their interest once more. The opening questions related to demographics, such as age, sex and location. From there, respondents were asked to divulge how much they watch poker on television, and if High Stakes Poker was once a regular part of their viewing pleasure. Getting down to the meat and potatoes of the matter, the survey delved even deeper into the participants’ psyche, enquiring as to what draws them to watch poker shows; the venue, the high-profile players, the stakes, the ability to study the pros and develop similar strategies, etc.
Even the value of the show’s hosts was questioned. Respondents were asked to grade the performances of 6x-seasonal host Gabe Kaplan, a comedian turned poker pro, as well as 2x-seasonal host and fan-favorite Kara Scott. Did viewers find their presence heightened the appeal of the show, or are there particular qualities in a host that would increase their motivation to watch? Suffice it to say, all of you live and online poker fans out there who want to see more poker-oriented programming in your broadcast line-up, High Stakes Poker ay once again become a part of your nightly couch-potato routine.