BBC to cover its first PDC darts event, drops Lakeside coverage

The Professional Darts Corporation will break new ground in 2016 by staging its first tournament live on the BBC following an exciting new deal to introduce the Champions League of Darts to its circuit in September.

The eight-player tournament will be held on September 24-25 at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff and will kick off a new era for the sport on terrestrial television, with the BBC in-turn deciding to cease its long-running coverage of the rival BDO World Championship after almost four decades.

Featuring the leading eight players from the PDC Order of Merit following July’s World Matchplay, the new Champions League of Darts will see the stars split into two groups of four players.

Following the round-robin phase, the top two players from each group will then progress to the knockout semi-finals and final, with a huge £100,000 first prize on offer for the eventual champion.

All four sessions of the tournament will be broadcast live and uninterrupted on BBC Two.

“The BBC has a long history of broadcasting darts but this will be the start of an exciting new era,” said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.

“The Champions League of Darts will bring the very best players in world darts – the top eight from the PDC Order of Merit – to BBC screens for an exciting, quick-fire tournament.

“In addition, it’s fantastic for us to be taking the Champions League of Darts to Cardiff.

“Welsh fans love their darts and this will be another great opportunity for them to see the sport’s biggest names live.

“Both live crowds and TV audiences have continued to soar for PDC tournaments in the last year, and it’s a great reflection for us that the BBC were keen to add the Champions League of Darts to their sporting portfolio.”

The decision to broadcast the new event also means the BBC will cease to cover the BDO World Championship, bringing its coverage of the event to end after 38 years.

The once illustrious Lakeside tournament has played host down the years to champions including five-time winner Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld.

But following a bitter divide in the sport in the early 1990s, which eventually led to the formation of the PDC, the BDO has seen big name players defect to the new organisation to play in its regular big-money tournaments, the majority of which are shown on Sky Sports and ITV4, with the BBC now joining the fray.

Commenting on the new deal with the PDC, Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, said: “We are very pleased to be showing the inaugural Champions League of Darts on the BBC for what is promised to be a thrilling and innovative tournament.

“Darts has always had wide appeal and it is great that audiences will get the chance to see all the action from the world’s top players live on BBC Two and across our platforms.”