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Darts — how the PDC plans to expand ‘pub game’ to global spectacle and sponsorship powerhouse

AuthorsMatthew HarrisonClara Moir

5 min read


Darts how the PDC plans to expand pub game to global spectacle and sponsorship powerhouse

Since Matchroom Sport took a majority stake in the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) in 2001, darts has gone from strength to strength. Today, the organisation holds several championship competitions each year, with over £10m in prize money being paid out across its global circuit. 

Here, Trainee Solicitors Matthew Harrison and Clara Moir outline how the PDC plans to continue attracting global audiences and significant sponsorship revenues while building up players into true superstars.


Engaging traditional fans

In recent years, darts has captivated fans with big personalities and slick production. The recent World Darts Championship final at Alexandra Palace — featuring the 16-year-old sensation Luke Littler — attracted the largest audience of any non-football sporting event in Sky Sports’ history.

The PDC has big plans for continuing to engage fans. In the UK alone, 36 televised events are scheduled throughout 2024. This includes all Premier League darts events, giving fans the chance to follow the 17-week competition from start to finish. Live events are scheduled in major cities across the country, from Belfast to Brighton. 

The atmosphere created by the fans at these live events is a huge part of darts’ success story. To consolidate fan engagement, the PDC plans to retain the traditional venues for iconic darts competitions — namely Alexandra Palace for the World Championship and Winter Gardens (Blackpool) for the World Matchplay. While these events would most likely fill much larger spaces, sticking with such iconic venues is a clear attempt to cater to darts’ traditional fanbase as the game continues to expand.


Generating new global audiences

However, the PDC has no plans to slow down with the expansion of the sport and its sights are set on new global audiences. Premier League Darts events will be held across the world, including in Bahrain, Berlin, Rotterdam and Dublin. In 2023, the World Cup of Darts expanded with a new 40-team format that saw new countries playing, bringing more eyes to the sport globally.

In terms of European darts, last year the PDC signed a deal with Moltke Sports — a German based events management company — to secure the future of the European Tour until the end of 2026. In the past, European tour events were held in Germany, Hungary, Belgium and Gibraltar. The PDC is now looking to reach a host of new fans across the continent.


Growing popularity among young people and women

In the UK, darts audiences are also diversifying. Engagement in the game among young people is at an all-time high, in no small part due to Luke Littler’s recent success.

Let’s not forget that in 2019, Fallon Sherrock became the first female darts player to win a match at the PDC World Championship. The PDC now mandates at least two places at the World Championships to female players. It’s estimated that one-third of darts watchers on Sky Sports are now female.

The World Darts Championship proved just how broad an appeal darts has. Reaching previously untapped audiences is crucial for the sustainable growth of the game — and darts’ global expansion will only increase the diversity of fans and players alike.


Sponsorships and investment

As the sport continues to expand, opportunities for commercial sponsorship will increase. Currently, the main sponsor of the PDC is Paddy Power, which is making “significant investment”. The parties entered into a three-year deal from the 2023/24 season, which will run until the end of the 2025/26 campaign. 

PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter said, "We invested over £2m into prize money in 2022-2023 and increasing Players Championship prize funds by £750,000 this year is further proof of our commitment to all PDC Tour Card Holders."

In addition to the Paddy Power sponsorship, the PDC has signed a new sponsorship agreement with BetMGM — a new gambling and betting platform from MGM Resorts — that sees the betting platform as the new title sponsor for Premier League darts in 2024. 

This is an exciting partnership that sees increased investment into the game in 2024, which will help to raise the profile of the game and provide greater incentives for players with a huge £1m in prize money now up for grabs in this year’s Premier League. The likes of Michael Van Gerwen, Michael Smith and most recently Luke Littler have become high-profile sportspeople and increased prize money will only serve to increase the number of darts stars in the coming years, as sponsorship and endorsement deals play a major role in providing financial stability, exposure and recognition to players.


Learnings for other sports

Fundamentally, darts has a become a highly marketable entertainment product. Production value, the simplicity of the game and effective marketing strategies — as well significant financial investment — has created a product with almost universal appeal. 

We can see this through the staggering increase in viewership figures for 2024, as many other sports strive to increase participation — particularly among younger audiences. For example, Rugby Union is ranked as the fourth biggest sport in the UK by engagement base yet doesn’t even make the top ten among those aged 18 to 24

This shows the need for an appealing and marketable product that provides entertainment value. Darts is a leading light in this area and can be a lesson for other sports looking to grow and engage new fans.


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