It’s a new year and i’ve promised myself to blog more this year, so let me go back a week. I’m still stuck in the dent in the sofa cushion thinking of blog ideas for the new year and waiting to see what Janet thinks of Barry’s soufflé on Come Dine With Me, when the familiar voice of Bobby George comes on over a montage of some pretty ferocious darts.
Oooh Channel 4 have darts now! Which PDC competition is this? Well its actually BDO and its arguably one of the biggest Darts tournaments in the world, The Lakeside World Darts Championships.
Being a nerd for this kind of thing it naturally got me “googling” this new TV deal which is being shared with relatively new sports broadcast giants BT Sport.
The BBC opted to discontinue its 39 year relationship with the BDO’s Lakeside tournament instead choosing to get the rights to the PDC’s new September tournament, The Champions League of Darts, which if you’re a business man you could arguably say that is the smart thing to do given the popularity and higher audience the PDC holds.
People may say that its another nail in the coffin for the BDO with even the BBC dropping it for PDC action but I think the big wigs at the BDO should see this as an opportunity to reinvent itself and bring it up to the heights that the PDC reaches.
Sky Sports has played a big part in getting the PDC so well recognised and well supported and we all know the battle between BT and Sky for ultimate sports broadcast supremacy continues, and it is in the best interests of BT for the Lakeside tournament to become as great as it was 10-15 years ago and subsequently grow and grow the BDO brand.
People argued that the introduction of BT to the Lakeside equation, when they won shared rights with the BBC in 2015, may damage the viewing figures with its move to a premium channel but for a sport to grow it needs investment and that is something the BBC just couldn’t offer any longer and that is where Channel 4 comes in to the mix.
Channel 4 are building a base on being the home of premium channel sports on free to air TV. They currently share Formula 1 with Sky Sports with decent viewership and have held the rights for NFL, cricket and more in the past. But what is encouraging for the bosses at the BDO will be the way Channel 4 has boosted the profile of the sports they have/have held. When they had the NFL coverage a couple of seasons back they produced a weekly highlights show as well as live games and broadcast at a decent time of the day, which was unheard of on free to air TV and which has now been continued by the BBC as they took the rights.
For me the real boost by Channel 4 for a sporting event has been their coverage of the Paralympic games for the last two summer games and the winter games in 2012. They put together an amazing team and have take the games that were squashed on to BBC Two when they had space after the Olympics, to being, quiet rightfully, as big as the Olympics. Channel 4 invested in documentaries, takeovers and the popular show, The Last Leg, using many ways to highlight disabilities and the stars of the games and introduced different sports to the nation which may not have even been heard of before. They got the nation involved, got them behind the sports and most importantly made people aware.
If Channel 4 get behind the BDO half as well as it has the Paralympics it’ll be a great start to getting the BDO and the great Lakeside back in the minds of the nation, and with the power of BT Sport alongside, it looks like there could be more positives for The Lakeside World Championship leaving the BBC than negatives.
The BDO Lakeside World Championships began today (Saturday) and Channel 4 will broadcast live coverage of each afternoon session during the nine-day tournament, in addition to one of the men’s semi-finals, final and the women’s final. All evening sessions will be broadcast on BT Sport along with the other men’s semi-final and the final.
Darts is a great British institution and there is room for a world class PDC & BDO circuit.
Here are some Angry darts players…