It was the announcement which they had been waiting for. The BDO revealed on Thursday that they would be returning to the UK’s television screens this year with the three-day World Trophy event set to be shown on free to air TV at the end of next month.
The staunch supporters of the BDO have not had much hope to cling onto this year. The BBC ended their near 40-year relationship with the organisation by deciding against renewing its contract to broadcast their World Championship in February.
If that was not bad enough then the first two scheduled events organised by De:Luxe, the Players Championship and the Festival of Darts, were both cancelled.
All the talk of a ‘new era’ for the BDO looked to have evaporated, but that popular phrase was brought up again as the long-awaited update on this year’s World Trophy was announced on Thursday afternoon.
The statement on the BDO’s website read: ‘BDO to Usher in New Era with World Trophy Event in Manchester and £150K Prize Fund (sic)’ and included the news that the tournament had also attracted a broadcaster.
‘Additionally major free to air TV coverage has been secured for the event with a broadcaster that has recently enjoyed huge viewing figures for live sport.
‘This broadcaster and an exciting new partnership with a major event promoter who has secured this TV coverage will be announced at a press conference next week in London.’
So all eyes now turn to next week and the press conference where the broadcaster for the tournament, and you assume the ‘major event promoter’, will be revealed.
With the PDC heavily involved with ITV, and now the BBC, the options as to who this broadcaster could be are sparse.
The two standout channels you would think are Channel Four and Dave. The former has boosted its sport portfolio with the free to air rights for the Formula One, which attracted an average audience of 2.3 million (peak of 3.2 million) for their live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix last Sunday.
Channel Four are no strangers to broadcasting live sport, with horse racing and American football also having been shown on the channel.
Dave on the other hand are new to live sport. The channel screened the boxer David Haye’s comeback fight against Mark De Mori in January of this year and pulled in an impressive peak of 3.02 million viewers for the bout.
After all of the false hope and disappointment so far in this ‘new era’ for the BDO, striking a deal with a new free to air broadcaster is a big coup and really could be the start of a new beginning for them.
Losing the BBC contract was a big blow but this is the chance for the BDO to make a fresh start with a new broadcaster.
Channel Four, Dave or whoever it might be, will no doubt have their own ideas as to how they want to present their coverage, and if they pull in the numbers they want then that will spell good news for getting the Lakeside on TV in 2017.
Getting their tournaments back on free to air television is a huge step forward for the BDO, but if this is to be a ‘new era’ then they must push on from this.
The presentation of the BDO product must be improved when the World Trophy is screened next month. There’s no point keeping it as it is because the viewers will stay away, the broadcasters will put out, and then the BDO are right back to square one again.