From its humble beginning of the tap room in the local pub, darts has become one of the most-watched TV sports on British TV, second only to the nation’s number one sport football.
Darts hits a TV demographic that the TV producers and advertisers both love. Gone have the smoky bars and tobacco sponsorship and in incomes a new breed of support. From betting firms, drinks and burger all want to be part of the darts action. For those who watch darts on tv can order food from the likes of Deliveroo so they can watch while they eat.
In 2003 the UK government put a ban on tobacco TV advertising, in turn, many sports event organisers had to find other major sponsors to support their sports, darts was no exception.
The British Darts Organisation (BDO) World Championship main sponsor at this point was Imperial Tobacco. Imperial Tobacco had sponsored the BDO World Darts Championships from its conception in 1978. To find a new sponsor for a sport that is closely associated with smoking and drinking and general pub culture would be difficult for the BDO. However, for them, luck was on their side as Lakeside the sporting venue and fondly known as the home of darts took up the reins.
As many darts fans will know the sport of darts is split into two, the British Darts Organisation (BDO) and the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). Barry Hearn, chairman of the PDC and Matchroom has taken darts to new heights with new sponsorship deals with darts betting online and the food industry including Burger King. The PDC World Darts Champion 2017 can expect to pick up a cheque £350,000 which is a far cry from the first world champions when Leighton Rees’s prize cheque was a mere £3,000. However, Ladies darts still hasn’t moved far from its concept in 2001. Trina Gulliver MBE has won the Ladies World Championship title no less than ten times yet her prize cheque for her 2016 victory was a mere £10,000.
The growth of the sport has meant worldwide TV and sponsors worldwide sponsors to suits. The removal of tobacco TV advertising in 2003 has given many other sponsors an easy route into the fastest TV growing sport in the World.
Today most of the PDC Dart events are now sponsored by a variety of industries from food/beverage, online bookmakers, paint suppliers and travel agents. Not only do the sponsors get hours of TV advertisement but they also tap into a growing army of darts fans that attend the many events held across the UK, Europe and the rest of the World with some venues filling stadiums of over 10,000 fans or more.
Major PDC dart events for 2017 include the Premier League, the World Matchplay, The World Grand Prix and the World Championships which all feature on Sky Sports TV while several others including the UK Open and the World Series of Darts will again terrestrial TV ITV4.
In September 2017, the BBC will again be broadcasting live darts but not from the BDO camp as we have come to expect but from the PDC. The BBC has signed up to the Champions league of Darts for a further three years until 2019 and I suspect they will continue beyond this date as the audience figures continue to rise year on year.
Whether you are a TV pundit of a regular darts event attendee, darts bring a great atmosphere and great entertainment to all that watch.
The 2017 events schedule is available to view and download from this website so you don’t need to miss a thing!