Channel 4 has struck a two-year deal with the British Darts Organisation to replace the BBC as the terrestrial home of the Lakeside World Darts Championships.
For both the 2017 and 2018 editions of the event at Lakeside Country Club, 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 and the women’s final.
In an identical format to the previous broadcast deal, all evening sessions will be aired on BT Sport. which will also cover the second men’s semi-final, with both Channel 4 and BT screening live coverage of the men’s final.
Further details on Channel 4 and BT Sport’s coverage, including its presenting and commentary line up, will be announced in due course.
Channel 4 replaces the BBC as the terrestrial broadcaster of the tournament after the corporation decided to bring 39 years of coverage to an end after the 2016 event, in favour of covering a new tournament organised by the rival Professional Darts Corporation – the Champions League of Darts – which takes place in September.
Commenting on the network’s first foray into darts coverage, Stephen Lyle, commissioning editor for sport at Channel 4 said: “We are delighted to agree this deal which sees Channel 4 become the home of BDO Darts on terrestrial TV, adding another popular sport to our schedules and keeping it free-to-air for fans.
“The darts is a British sporting institution and we look forward to bringing our unique Channel 4 approach to coverage of the Championships.”
Despite the BBC axing its BDO darts coverage, the organisation has managed to negotiate free-to-air TV deals with UKTV’s Dave for the BDO World Trophy earlier this year, alongside its new deal with Channel 4 and BT Sport for the Lakeside World Championships.
Channel 4 has a strong track record of major sporting coverage, which most recently includes Formula 1, the Paralympic Games and its horse racing coverage, including the Grand National, Royal Ascot and The Derby, although this will come to an end in later this year after ITV won the rights from 2017 onwards.
Sue Williams, Chairman of the BDO, said: “We took considerable care in selecting our broadcast partner and we are highly delighted that Channel 4 is that partner.
“Through its channels and BT Sport, all the sessions will be shown live with additional highlights shows and innovative content online.
“We were particularly pleased with Channel 4’s fresh approach and new ideas and the track record they have for this with other sports in their portfolio. We believe this will appeal to a broader demographic of viewers.
“This is an excellent partnership for the BDO, both commercially and in terms of the right strategic partner to further strengthen BDO darts.”