The PDC has announce a new three-year deal with ITV to broadcast live coverage four major tournaments, including the UK Open and a new Masters event.
The ground-breaking deal, covering tournaments in 2013, 2014 and 2015, will also see the free-to-air broadcaster cover the PartyPoker.net European Championship and the Cash Converters Players Championship Finals.
All four tournaments will be broadcast live on ITV4 as part of the channel’s impressive portfolio of sport.
The first event to be broadcast under the new deal will be next month’s PartyPoker.net European Championship, which will be held from July 4-7 in Muelheim, Germany. ITV has previously covered the tournament in 2008 and 2011.
ITV4 will then broadcast a brand new tournament, The Masters, from November 1-3, as the top 16 players from the PDC Order of Merit do battle at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh in a three-day event.
The Cash Converters Players Championship Finals, to be held from November 29-December 1, will again be broadcast live on ITV4 from the Butlins Minehead Resort in Somerset.
Finally, the UK Open – known as the ‘FA Cup of darts’ and recently won by Phil Taylor in Bolton – will also be broadcast live for the first time on ITV in 2014 and 2015, with dates and venue information to be confirmed later this year.
ITV takes over the rights to the UK Open from Sky Sports, who had covered the event since its inception in 2003.
The tournament was recently left off the list of events that Sky announced it would cover under a new multi-year deal with the PDC.
ITV’s new deal ensures the biggest ever offering of terrestrial coverage of PDC events since the organisation was founded in 1992, as well as biggest portfolio of darts tournaments on ITV since the sport’s former heyday of the 1980s.
“We’re delighted that ITV have made such a significant commitment to the PDC, and to the sport of darts, with this three-year, four-event deal,” said PDC chairman Barry Hearn.
“They have a great enthusiasm for top-level sport, and in these four tournaments they see the best players in darts competing in major championships.
“As part of that, we are extremely excited about the introduction of The Masters, an event which will see the leading 16 players in world darts doing battle to see who really is the best of the best!”
Niall Sloane, director of sport at ITV, said: “We are always delighted to work with the PDC, and the new darts tournaments are testimony to their ability to produce first class sporting events.”
Former BDO World Championship semi-finalist Chris Mason, who has contributed to ITV’s darts coverage since 2008, confirmed via Twitter that he would be working on all of the tournaments covered in the new deal, alongside fellow ITV regulars Alan Warriner-Little, John Rawling and Stuart Pyke.
ITV’s new darts deal comes in the same week as the announcement that ITV4 will also cover the new snooker Champion of Champions event in November.
DARTS ON ITV4 IN 2013PartyPoker.net European Championship July 4-7, RWE Sporthalle Muelheim, Germany The Masters November 1-3, Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh Cash Converters Players Championship Finals November 29-December 1, Butlins Minehead Resort, Somerset
Full broadcast schedules for each event to be confirmed in due course.