It was the first mainstream media source to embrace poker in a confident way, and ESPN probably remains the biggest source of poker publicity in the media, even as media exposure increases for many of the sport’s best-known faces.

And it’s not going to stop any time soon, either: This year’s broadcast of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) on the international sports network has jumped up a walloping 11 percent over last year.

11 percent. That’s a huge increase no matter what you’re measuring — but in the world of TV ratings, it’s particularly impressive. And the Main Event final table is still weeks away.

“According to ESPN officials, through 11 weeks of coverage of the 2009 WSOP, its broadcasts have delivered a 0.91 average household coverage rating, up 11% from last year, when the average rating was 0.82,” writes Dan Cypra over at PokerNewsDaily.

Most interestingly, the ratings deliver the key demographic that advertisers always strive to reach: males in the age group of 18 to 49. This can be an elusive group to market to, so the fact that the WSOP is delivering this demographic is likely to ensure that the tournament remains a ficture of ESPN’s programming for a long time to come.

So, what’s the benefit to poker affiliates? Well, that’s pretty much up to you and your inventiveness and ambition when it comes to marketing your site — but let’s face it, the advantages of poker getting HUGE ratings on the nation’s main sports network seem pretty obvious. Tie in your marketing to the WSOP, or to programs that offer qualifiers, and you should be able to boost your traffic and conversions accordingly.

Click here for more details on the WSOP’s ratings over at


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