This week The World Surf League announced a streaming deal that was proclaimed to be “game changing” for… surfing… While it is still a bit of a head scratcher as to how surfing becomes mainstream in, say, Iowa or Nebraska, other niches sports aren’t that far off the mark in finding their home, literally.
One of which believe it or not, is darts, a game which almost everyone has played, knows what it is and can relate to. Well, outside the U.S., professional darts is a thing, just like many outside the U.S. can’t believe professional fishing is here. How big a thing in the U.K. is it? Big numbers, big followers, big personalities, big sponsors, big events. After all it has an everyday feel, great precision, quick results, prerequisite drama and lots of personalities. And…it has a growing following here, so much so that BBC America announced Thursday that they are not only bringing Premier League Darts—yes there is a Premier League—to the U.S., not just with a weekly show, but with a streaming service as well, smack dab on your mobile device live every Thursday. If it worked for NBC and the Premier League—that soccer one—to build an audience, why not darts?
The participants all have big names and quite the following and engagement; much like NASCAR. The release talked about Champion Michael van Gerwen aka “Mighty Mike,” Rob Cross aka “Voltage,” Gary Anderson “The Flying Scotsman,” and many others—all with a mix of WWE showmanship, steely eyed visages, and larger than life stories, and we know how much we all love storytelling.
“Darts is a fringe sport like no other—it appeals to the obsessive soccer fan, requires the skill of poker and has some of the high entertainment quota of wrestling,” said Sarah Barnett, BBCA President, in a statement. “As home to some of the world’s largest global franchises, adding a unique, world class sport to BBCA’s fresh and entertaining line up feels exactly right.”
The series will run for 16 straight weeks, and the Premier League is amazingly Britain’s biggest indoor sporting event. There will also be stops in Rotterdam and Germany and will play to a casual U.S. audience as well as over 16.64 million active American players, according to the American Darters Association).
Will it strike a marketing bullseye? The U.S. Championship in Las Vegas this past summer drew nice numbers, and who doesn’t love a hood game of darts? Heck there’s a drinking angle to it, lots of fun, and if Poker became a thing, maybe BBC has stuck its niche. “Doctor Who,” move over.