Top chess streamer and budding poker star Alexandra Botez has called out the WSOP for burying the WSOP Main Event, poker’s greatest tournament, behind a paywall, accusing the organisers of putting profit before the game.
Paywalling the greatest spectacle of any sport will inevitably lead to a decrease in its relevance.
50 years ago, half the human population watched Boxing’s heavyweight title (Ali’s most viewed fight had 2 billion viewers). Now the biggest fights are getting just over 1 million…
— Alexandra Botez (@alexandrabotez) July 15, 2023
Botez used a great example of how many people used to watch the elite boxing matches decades ago before cable and satellite TV was ever a thing.
Muhammed Ali’s most watched fight was seen by a whopping two billion people. Back then that was more than half the world’s population!
Today, top fights are struggling to be seen by more than one million viewers, massively downgrading the cultural impact of the sport.
It’s important to understand that the decisions regarding paywalls and accessibility in major sporting events are not straightforward. They involve various parties like organizers, broadcasters, and rights holders, and are heavily influenced by financial factors and the goal of…
— LEGION | Joey Ingram 🐉 (@Joeingram1) July 15, 2023
Joey Ingram was quick to give his slant on striking the right balance between making money and doing the best for the game.
“I think this is a pretty important issue in the poker world and glad it’s being discussed WSOP Main Event specifically has a lot of potential for bigger numbers w/ different marketing strats and would help to establish it at a relevant cultural level in America and beyond.”
Olympic gold medallist for boxing and poker player Audley Harrison confirmed that Alexandra Botez’s analogy with boxing was correct.
He won his medal in front of the world on free to watch TV and became a household name in the UK almost overnight, proving the power that viewership can wield.
@alexandrabotez the hypothesis in regard to boxers & more money is correct. The subscription model has marginalized 🥊 to its detriment. I won my Olympic gold medal on BBC & it was seen by most of the country, so I became a household name overnight. Poker needs more viewers 4 now
— Audley Harrison MBE (@audleyharrison) July 15, 2023
Botez’s main sport of chess has also been a great example over the last few years. When the live chess scene shut down because of the pandemic, internet tournaments featuring the best players in the world were streamed almost continuously for free on YouTube.
This has proved to be of great benefit to chess with many more people taking up the game than was expected. Maybe poker has something to learn from this approach.
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