DARTS: PDC Players Championship returns to ITV4

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Darts’ Players Championship Finals is to be broadcast live on ITV4, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) has announced.

The free-to-air digital channel will follow up their successful screening of the PartyPoker.net European Championship in July by broadcasting the £250,000 event at the Doncaster Dome from December 8-11.

“We are delighted that ITV4 have chosen to extend their coverage of our events at the Players Championship Finals,” said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.

“July’s European Championship was a brilliant event, featuring many exciting games, including Adrian Lewis’ sensational nine-darter in a thrilling semi-final with Raymond van Barneveld, and it culminated in a memorable final which was won by Phil Taylor.

“With the 32 form players from the PDC ProTour this year playing in Doncaster, the Players Championship Finals promises to be another superb tournament.”

ITV’s male-orientated channel previously screened the tournament, comprising of 32 top PDC players, in 2009 and 2010 at the famous Circus Tavern in Essex.

The last Players Championship Finals screened on ITV4, in 2010, was won by Paul Nicholson, who memorably beat 15-times world champion Phil Taylor in an epic semi-final contest which went down to the deciding leg.

Taylor v Nicholson – 2010 Semi Final – Deciding Leg

ITV reportedly pulled out of the sport following last year’s Grand Slam of Darts in November, after Sky Sports took over the rights to screen the tournament.

This lead to just online coverage of the third Players Championship Finals earlier this year, which was broadcast via the official PDC website and produced by specialist sports media group Perform.

But the network claimed the rights to screen the European Championship in July, which turned out to be a ratings success for ITV4, peaking with nearly 1m viewers on finals night.

The fourth staging of the event has been moved to a new December slot, and follows the conclusion of the 2011 Players Championship tour, comprising of all the non-televised floor tournaments held across the UK and abroad throughout the year.

Darts is part of a growing sports portfolio on ITV4, which includes UEFA Europa League football, Indian Premier League cricket, Tour De France and other premier cycling events, British Touring Cars, plus rugby union’s World Cup, Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup.

The Players Championship Finals will feature the leading 32 players from the final 2011 Players Championship Order of Merit, which is comprised of prize money won in the 31 one-day events held during the course of the year.

The first round will be split across Thursday December 8 and Friday December 9, with eight matches being played on each evening.

The second round will be played in two sessions on Saturday December 10, with the quarter-finals on Sunday afternoon and the semi-finals and final following on Sunday evening.

February’s Players Championship Finals saw Phil Taylor win the trophy for the second time in three years, as he defeated Gary Anderson 13-12 in a thrilling final.

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