I haven't finished transcribing the conference call I listened in on Thursday, but here's a few quotes from WSOP commish Jeffrey Pollack:
“We’re going to put the spotlight on the entire final table, celebrating the fact that they’ve outlasted and outplayed thousands of competitors. Now instead of there being one star who emerges from our main event, there will nine stars, one of whom will receive our championship bracelet on ESPN the same day they win it – the first time this has ever happened.”
“I think this same day telecast is really going to be a cliffhanger that will be must see appointment television, and really what we’re doing is shifting the paradigm. Now poker fans will be anticipating who will win instead of just talking about who won.”
“After several weeks of live play at the WSOP, there will be now be an additional 16 weeks of promotions that I think will lift the entire game of poker and further mainstream the incredible personalities that make the WSOP so much fun and so interesting.”
The chatter online about this move has been quite heavy. I can see both good and bad points. For example, players with momentum could lose it, international players (and also domestic ones) may have trouble making two trips to Vegas depending on what else is going on in their lives (although Harrah's is footing the bill). On the other hand, the final nine all ought to be able to score some nice sponsorship deals before playing the final table and will receive more fame and media attention.
A big question I've seen online that was answered in the conference call is that after all players are paid ninth place money immediately after making the final table, the rest of the prize pool will be put in an interest bearing account for the three months between play. I don't know the exact numbers from the past since I haven't looked them up, but I heard the number $20 million bantered about as an estimate of how much would have been put into the account if this were done in 2007. I don't know how much $20 million drawing interest for three months would earn at today's rates, but it will be a little something extra.