The Professional Darts Corporation has announced that ITV will screen a fifth televised tournament in 2015 as part of a bumper schedule of live darts for free-to-air viewers.
The World Series of Darts Finals, which will be held on November 21-22, adds to ITV4’s existing calendar of live PDC darts events, which includes the UK Open, European Championship, The Masters and Players Championship Finals.
The deal was confirmed as part of amendments made to the PDC’s tour calendar for next year, including a new date and venue for the ITV4-televised Unibet Masters, as well as the addition of a fifth ITV-televised PDC darts event.
Further details of the venue and format for the World Series of Darts Finals will be confirmed once finalised, along with details of the individual World Series of Darts events, which have previously been held in various locations around the world, including Dubai and Sydney.
Following the success of the first two stagings of another ITV4-televised event, the Unibet Masters, which features the world’s top 16 players and won recently in Edinburgh by James Wade, the PDC has decided to move the tournament to move to the opposite end of the calendar.
The 2015 Masters will be held on January 31-February 1, shortly after the World Championships, a new, multi-purpose arena adjoining the Milton Keynes Dons’ football stadium – ArenaMK.
Another of ITV4’s live PDC events, the European Championship, which will be held in 2015 on October 23-25, will move from its former venue in Muelheim, Germany, to a new location which will be announced in due course.
In addition, the Sky-televised World Grand Prix will also move forward one day in the calendar and will now be played from Sunday, October 4, to Saturday, October 10.
Commenting on the changes, PDC chairman Barry Hearn said: “2015 was already shaping up to be our biggest ever year at the Professional Darts Corporation, but the introduction of the World Series of Darts Finals is another boost for the sport’s best players.
“The ever-increasing and thrilling standard of darts our players produce is being reflected in record ticket sales and record television ratings, and the demand for PDC tournaments continues to rise.
“In addition, we are delighted to be moving to the new ArenaMK in Milton Keynes for the first time, whilst the slight change to the World Grand Prix’s scheduling is designed to create an even more exciting finale.”
ITV returned to televised darts in 2007 after nearly a twenty-year absence, covering the Grand Slam of Darts at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall every year until 2010, though the rights passed over to Sky Sports in 2011.
Since then, ITV4 has screened a variety of smaller tournaments of the PDC schedule, including the European Championship, The Masters and Players Championship Finals. The channel also took over the rights to show the UK Open from Sky earlier this year.
ITV Sport’s coverage of PDC darts events is presented by Matt Smith alongside pundits Chris Mason and Alan Warriner-Little, with commentary led by John Rawling and Stuart Pyke, while Ned Boulting conducts reports and interviews from the behind-the-scenes.
The free-to-air channel’s current three-year deal with the PDC, signed in the summer of 2013, ensured the biggest ever offering of terrestrial coverage of the organisation’s events since it was founded in 1992, as well as the biggest portfolio of darts tournaments on ITV since the sport’s former heyday in the 1980s.
For more information about the 2015 PDC darts calendar, visit the official website.
|LIVE PDC DARTS TOURNAMENTS ON ITV IN 2015|
|JANUARY 31 – FEBRUARY 1|
|The Masters ArenaMK, Milton Keynes||PDC|
|UK Open Finals Skyline Pavillion, Minehead||PDC|
|European Championship Venue TBC||PDC|
|World Series of Darts Finals Venue TBC||PDC|
|Players Championship Finals Skyline Pavillion, Minehead||PDC|