For a long time, darts were viewed as a pub sport. It is one of the oldest sports still being practiced today and dates back to the 1300s. While darts were always popular among pub-goers, it has evolved into a true spectator sport, with major events attracting thousands in attendance and millions at home and over 67 thousand individuals playing in England alone. And the sport’s popularity is spreading far beyond the United Kingdom, with major events being held all over Europe and the globe. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why darts as a sport has been skyrocketing in popularity over the recent years.
Nola Bushnell, the founder of Atari computers, once said: “all the best games are easy to learn but tough to master”, and this sums up darts perfectly. This is one of the reasons why it was such a hit – if you can still play a game after 2 pints of bitter in between smokes, it’s safe to say that the sport is pretty accessible!
But things have changed now, and dart players are seen as legitimate athletes. And they are. It’s not uncommon for darts players today to practice for 5 to 6 hours per day on their skills. This skill translates into better performance and more interest as a spectator sport.
The sport is now practiced by over 50 million people on the planet. This makes it one of the most popular global sports and on par with MMA and boxing as far as prize money and popularity go, even when it comes to betting.
Just like most major spectator sports, the darts betting scene is huge and offers tons of chances for gamblers to get in on the action. Punters can do some handicap betting, bet on who will win tournaments, or who will win a leg, among other things. The betting is also very straightforward, and more accessible than other betting sports. People can learn the latest on darts betting at sites like Boyle Sports and get access to the best betting offers at the touch of a button, look up strategies, and have opportunities to bet on tons of different events throughout the year.
There are also a much larger number of professional players today, which makes for a deeper talent pool. The rising popularity of darts as a spectator sport is one of the main reasons for the sudden rise in prize money, which dramatically transformed the game and make watching darts and darts betting more exciting for spectators.
For instance, the World Darts Champion Rob Cross received £400,000 in prize money when he won the title in 2017. Comparatively, the 2000 winner, Phil Taylor, only got £31,000 for his performance.
Now a 16 times champion, Phil Taylor has become one of the most popular ambassadors of the sport and has done a lot to spread the popularity of the sport both in the country and abroad. He also inspired a whole new crop of professional players to get in the game. There has also been a sharp increase in the number of major tournaments being held each year.
This rise in the number of players, and the small margins in points that they share, mean that games are often very tight and makes the potential for gamblers to have more fun when darts betting.
A lot of people who play darts will tell you that it’s therapeutic for them. The game being accessible allows people of all ages to play, and this makes it a great family activity as well. It’s also a relaxing sport that makes it a great option for people dealing with stress on a daily basis.
Darts is a great way to form a social circle and build relationships with people you wouldn’t have the chance to interact with normally. It brings people of all classes, cultures, genders and ages together. And the competitive aspect allows you to build healthy and friendly rivalries with other players.
In a world dominated by screens and low attention spans, darts is one of the few activities that can get people to unplug. It’s also a sport that you can really dedicate yourself to and master, and it provides a platform for people with low self-esteem to start building confidence.
“Anything that gets played on the television is great.” Said Michael Van Gerwen, PDC world champion. “It helps bring more people to the game.”
And he’s right. A large portion of darts’ success nationally and around the globe is the increasing number of events being broadcasted. While Europe and the UK lead the way, the US is slowly catching on, and more events are being shown on national television than ever. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that there are over 17 million darts players in the United States at the moment.
Australia is another major market for darts, and many tournaments are broadcasted there as well. This increase in visibility has not only made the sport more popular but turned some of the players into rock stars.
The PDC world championships are held around the Christmas period and have now become synonymous with the festivities. This has also been one of the reasons why it’s such a ratings winner. The peak audience for the 2018 tournament reached 1.4 million people in the country. It also attracted 2.4 million in Germany, which is a clear indicator of the sports reach.
While most tournaments were previously broadcast on pay-tv, free-to-air channels are taking notes and trying to capitalise on the trend. The BBC and ITV have both signed multi-year deals to broadcast select tournaments.
With a sport so easy to watch, and such an electric atmosphere at tournaments, the sky’s the limit for the game of darts. The Darts World Series stated that tournaments will be held in new markets such as China and Dubai. This could make a major impact on attendance but could also bring more international talent. It will also cause a rise in sponsorship and more bookmakers to start offering darts betting.
The game, or should we say, the sport of darts has outgrown its pub origins and is now a worldwide phenomenon with millions of fans and players around the globe. There’s no telling what the future holds for the game, but it sure looks promising.