Monday, July 25, 2016

The Asynchronous Audience

Over the last few days I’ve gradually been listening to the final PokerNews Podcast of the 2016 World Series of Poker (episode #406) -- of the summer portion of the WSOP, anyway. Kind of just the way things worked out in terms of my listening opportunities, although there wasn’t such an urgency to listen right away as there was with earlier episodes since this one recapped the action as it concluded on that final day when the Main Event played down from 27 to nine.

That’s where the Main Event will remain, of course, for approximately 100 more days until the “November Nine” (which starts at the end of October) finally gets going.

There are a lot of good interviews in this episode -- the ones with Gordon Vayo, Cliff Josephy, and Griffin Benger stand out as especially interesting. Again, I’ve said it before (and recently), but Remko Rinkema is terrific with these.

Along the way Remko and Donnie Peters talk through that last day, recounting highlights and big hands. Which is how most of us will be experiencing that day (and the couple preceding it) once ESPN begins airing its coverage -- not until Sunday, September 11, actually.

In other words, the WSOP shows won’t begin on ESPN until after the NFL has already begun, as the network is obviously once more using poker as a kind of “counterprogramming” to football. Doesn’t matter too much, though, as I imagine many will go the DVR route, watch “on demand” via the WatchESPN app, or view the episodes online in some other fashion when and where they wish. Kind of like the way I’m listening to the PNPod.

If you think about it, those of us who like to follow the WSOP Main Event now experience this particular tournament very much like other “series” people watch on demand -- i.e., dramas, comedies, etc. That delivery method also creates conditions for the same sort of “asynchronous” dialogue about the tournament we often have online via various social media outlets and discussion forums.

All of which means our talk about the tournament so far has been necessarily scattered and strung out. Even when the episodes start airing seven weeks from now, they’ll only serve as vague points of reference for the discussion as it goes forward -- apart, perhaps, from a big hand or two (such as Benger’s aces-over-kings ouster of the talkative William Kassouf in 17th) which might get us all on the same page for a brief moment.

Not saying this is good or bad, just different from most major poker tournaments and sporting events that are covered live (or essentially live), and perhaps more like other facets of entertainment culture that are not collectively experienced at once. At least the final table will give us a chance to witness and respond to the WSOP Main Event as a group.

Meanwhile, if you want to talk about the WSOP Main Event, well, go right ahead. We’ll catch up eventually.

Image: “Scattered Time,” dommylive. CC BY 2.0.

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