Sky Sports will take its long-standing partnership with the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) into its 25th year thanks to a new five-year broadcast deal.
The agreement offers Sky Sports viewers over 50 days of live and exclusive darts throughout the year including the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship each Christmas until 2018.
As part of the deal, Sky Sports viewers will also continue to enjoy live coverage of the McCoy’s Premier League, World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts, World Cup of Darts and the World Matchplay, which celebrates its 20th staging this summer.
The UK Open, known as the ‘FA Cup of darts’ and held every June at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, is not included in the deal, suggesting the TV rights for the event will go to another network from 2014 onwards.
The partnership between Sky Sports and the PDC extends back to the organisation’s formation two decades ago, beginning with the 1994 World Championship, following the acrimonious split from the British Darts Organisation (BDO).
Since the PDC’s formation, live televised darts has grown from just a few hundred fans at venues such as the Circus Tavern and Salford’s Willows Variety Centre, to over 10,000 fans at the O2 Arena for the Premier League.
The World Championship offers £1 million in prize money – over 15 times the prize fund for the PDC’s first World Championship back in 1994 – while over £5 million prize money is now paid out annually on the PDC circuit.
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “Sky Sports has worked with the PDC since the early 1990s, helping to build the sport from working men’s clubs to some of the biggest arenas in the UK and Ireland.”
He added: “This is a real success story and an excellent long term partnership. Our live coverage and promotion of darts is unique and Sky Sports viewers can enjoy the fantastic atmosphere that these events generate for a further five years.”
PDC chairman Barry Hearn said: “We’ve just celebrated our 20th World Championship with the best tournament ever staged, and both that event and the current McCoy’s Premier League Darts show how far the sport has come in the past two decades.
“Sky Sports has played an integral part in the growth of darts, with its innovative and high quality broadcasts and fundamental support of the PDC, and we are delighted to sign this new broadcast contract.
“This deal is not only great for the PDC but also for our players, who will be playing in huge events live on Sky Sports in the coming years.”
This announcement continues a series of strong major rights deals for Sky Sports over the twelve months, including: Barclays Premier League, England & Wales cricket, British & Irish Lions, Heineken Cup, European Tour, Ryder Cup, NBA, NFL, plus many more.
Live darts coverage is also available via Sky Go, which offers Sky customers access to live and on demand programmes and films from up to 43 channels on a wide range of internet-connected devices including laptops, smartphones, tablets and games consoles.For a full list of live darts on UK TV throughout 2013 – CLICK HERE