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Anne Lindner
 

Q & A: Mark Bradley, Players Network

24 January 2002

Mark Bradley is the CEO of Players Network, a company positioning itself to become the premier gaming channel on interactive television and the Internet. The company has a production facility in Las Vegas where it shoots gambling instruction videos that are complete with showgirls and lounge acts. Said Bradley, "We built our own casino from the ground up and filled it full of people."

The company provides its more than 350 videos and other content--which includes feature articles and interviews with expert gamblers--to both land-based and online casinos. IGN spoke with Bradley this week about what his company can to do improve the online gaming experience.

IGN: How did Players Network come into being?

Mark Bradley: My background is as a television producer for the cable TV industry, and I came to Las Vegas as a tourist. I saw, in one of the hotels, an attempt to instruct guests on how to play the games. I saw an opportunity there to produce a much better program that explains how to do the games and also realized that there was a market to produce one product, a very high-quality product that could be distributed to all the hotels as opposed to them trying to do this independently. That's kind of how the company started. We went from table games to sports and racing and handicapping, how to go into the race books and make a bet, to slot machine instructions, which is very necessary now with the complicated machines that have games within games within games, to lifestyle programming.

It was really the goal to become a television network like an ESPN. We diverted a little bit from that original plan, even though it's still a part of the ultimate goal, because other technologies came into place, like the Internet and interactivity, and the analog cable companies' systems were filled up and the digital networks weren't quite built yet. So we got in a little bit of a holding pattern, waiting for convergence in technology.

IGN: Is it goal to offer--or is already offered--a channel on interactive TV?

MB: We have two products. We have a B2C product, which if you go to our Web site, www.playersnetwork.com, you'll see that it kind of represents the Web site of the future, which is multimedia programming. We combine TV, radio, print and real-time information and interactive content all together on one platform, and as more people get high-speed cable modems and interactive TV comes into place, you'll see channels like ours. We're really the first ones to ever do this, that we know of, even the major networks haven't gone there yet.

With our B2B product, we also realize that with all the gaming Web sites popping up all over--whether it's a marketing Web site for a hotel or whether its an actual online gaming site--they're very boring. All they have is games. So we offer news, we offer instructional videos, radio shows and Webcasts--all the different, fun services that would complement an experience on a computer, an online gaming site. We also offer hotels the ability to syndicate their content, so for example, if somebody's a client of ours, and we produce their in-room network, we'll also take the stuff we produce for them and syndicate it on their Web site. We'll put it on our Web site, and also we'll distribute it through various broadband networks. We're providing their content to other interactive channels that are complementary to the casino industry, which can ultimately drive traffic and build new customers that they would have never reached by themselves.

IGN: Could an online casino site license this service?

MB: Absolutely. We're in the content licensing and private labeling business. … For example, if we have a video on how to play a new slot machine, and (a casino) bought that machine, they could send that video through video email to their customer database and say, 'Would you like to play this new machine and watch the video to learn how to play it?' … Basically, by having the content on their Web sites and having it delivered to their customers via the Internet, it'll allow them to learn more about the user habits and the viewing habits of their particular customer, which will allow them to do more targeted marketing directly to that person's specific interest. So really, when you look at Players Network, really just one way to sum us up is we're an end-to-end, vertical marketing solution for the hotel and casino industry, providing them content, technology, customers and distribution to increase their reach.

IGN: Would you say these services could be used by online gamblers as much as land-based gamblers?

MB: A hundred percent. When you look at an online casino, and when you compare it to a land-based casino, the difference that you have is that a land-based casino has several hundred thousand square feet of entertainment where they can build things to keep you hooked into their casino--from their restaurants to their promotions, their entertainment. A lot of those same things can be done with a screen, and you see that with watching TV; you have all of these different programming opportunities.

An online casino has got to do the same thing; they should have entertainment streaming through their Internet, they should have radio shows, online hosts, they should have all those things they have at a casino. The only thing they couldn't provide directly from the computer is food. [laughs] But you could do a national deal with Domino's Pizza or Waiters on Wheels, and when (players) earn a certain amount of points, the casino host says, 'We're going to buy you dinner tonight, what do you want?' And you type it in and it shows up at your door. Eventually you'll be able to do that. …

IGN: Do you have plans to offer Internet gaming directly from your site?

MB: We will accept advertising from online casinos; we are not in the casino business, and we have no plans to open up a casino. … I don't know if you're aware of this, but we're in a million and a half homes in the U.K., where it is legal to do online wagering. If the casino wanted to tap into our million and a half customers, we could give them access to do that. We are creating other joint ventures with communication companies abroad, and our distribution base will grow way beyond a million and a half homes.

Q & A: Mark Bradley, Players Network is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner