Two big brands synonymous with online and land poker have teamed up in an international television sponsorship deal that will ensure global brand awareness.
The creator of World Poker Tour, WPT Enterprises and the internet's largest and most successful online poker company, PokerStars, are to partner in a sponsorship agreement for WPT Season VII, covering television broadcasts in Europe and the Americas.
Specifically, PokerStars receives title sponsorship, exclusive in-show educational or gaming site and brand integration in all WPT Season VII "original" episodes, which feature commentary by Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten and air in Canada, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
Additionally, PokerStars and WPTE will collaborate to create "localised" Spanish/Portuguese-language programs featuring native commentators for specific territories in Latin America. To date, WPT has successfully aired localised productions for previous seasons in France, UK, Philippines, South Korea and Macedonia.
Steve Lipscomb, Founder and CEO of WPT, said: "TV sponsorship is an important part of our business, so having the biggest company in the poker industry jump on board is an exciting way to start international distribution of Season VII. We look forward to working with PokerStars as we roll out the latest WPT programming to fans in these territories."
WPT celebrated the deal with more positive news – its Q1 2009 results showed lower losses than had been expected. The televised poker-tournament production company reported a net loss of $521 000 in the first quarter of 2009, compared to a $2.3 million loss in the first quarter of 2008.
Revenues for the first quarter increased to $5.5 million, compared to $5 million in the first quarter of 2008, helped by a $512 000 increase in online poker subscription site ClubWPT revenues. The site currently has 14 000 subscribers with an additional 1 000 consisting of trial memberships, an increase of about 2 000 subscribers from the end of 2008. Lower domestic revenues for its televised tournaments in the first quarter were mostly offset by an increase in foreign revenues from previous agreements with Party Gaming for Seasons 4 through 6 of the WPT, along with Season 1 of the now-discontinued Professional Poker Tour.
WPT China operations were shut down in March while the search continues for an investor to acquire the assets. WPT China lost $984 000 in the first quarter, compared to a $528 000 loss in the first quarter of 2008. An additional $139 000 in losses will be recorded in the second quarter as the company completes the Grand Final of the second series in the second series of Traktor Poker Tour in June.
The company continued downsizing its Los Angeles operations, wrote off its remaining $1 million investment in Cecure Gaming in the first quarter, and said farewell to its online gaming spokesperson in an ongoing effort to reduce expenses and improve cash flow.
Income from continuing operations was $479 000, compared to a $2.3 million loss in the first quarter of 2008. In January, the company received a line of credit of $2.7 million from UBS, its broker of $3.9 million in auction rate securities. This development helped improve cash flow from operating activities slightly in the quarter, compared to a $2.7 million cash outflow in the first quarter last year.
For the second quarter of 2009, the company expects to air 11 episodes of Season 7 of the World Poker Tour. Revenues are expected to be in the range of $4.0 to $4.3 million, with a small loss in the quarter expected.
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