The effects of Black Friday (April 15th) continue to linger today after the National Heads-Up Poker Championship was recently cancelled by NBC. Adam Freifeld, who is the NBC Sports Senior Director of Communications, announced the sad news when he said the network wanted to, “continue to evaluate our poker programming.”
The 64-player poker tournament had ran since 2005, and saw both poker pros and celebrities face-off in heads-up matches. Popular pro Erik Seidel won the 2011 National Heads-Up Poker Championship, which appears to be the last event – at least for now. Of course, Freifeld’s wording does make it seem like the Heads-Up Championship could come back beyond 2012.
But before this happens, there will need to be some major sponsors because both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker kept this event going. These were the two largest online poker rooms in the business for a while, and their millions of dollars in advertising revenue helped keep the Heads-Up Championship afloat. In addition to this, they also paid the buy-ins for many of the sponsored pros.
However, it’s obvious that Full Tilt Poker won’t be pumping any more advertising money or buy-in fees into the tournament since they are losing a fight for their very existence. And last we checked, the Groupe Bernard Tapie rumored acquisition is only going to be a minority ownership deal – if it even amounts to anything.
As for PokerStars, they’re doing quite well, but they no longer cater to American players. That said, there’s no reason to sponsor the National Heads-Up Championship because NBC is based in the United States. And while the TV show drew a considerable amount of viewers from outside the states, the number isn’t high enough to justify keeping the show on air.