Darts TV Ratings - The Growth of Darts Viewing Figures

Updated: 4604 Darts

We take a look at the viewing figures for TV darts and see how the growth of not only event attendances have risen but also TV audiences growing exponentially

Darts TV Ratings - The Growth of Darts Viewing Figures
Matthew Edgar Darts Editor and WDF Professional

Former PDC Darts Professional, SkySports Darts Commentator and YouTuber with 6 tournament wins under his belt including the Iceland Open in 2023

Darts at the Alexandra Palace in London and with the World Darts Championship being held across the end of one year and the start of the next, it is a festive pastime that is just as popular as Boxing Day football.

Many Christmas traditions have been set in stone for centuries. Carol singing, the opening of presents, Morecambe and Wise on the TV. However, darts is new addition over the past couple of decades.

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Because although Darts has always been considered to be a popular way to spend your spare time, that popularity has grown since Barry Hearn took ownership of the PDC – the governing body that oversees the annual World Championship.

Of course, popularity can be measured in many different ways, and the first is the number of people that sit down and watch the World Championship final every January. What were modest beginnings have now transformed into something of a behemoth.

Looking at the viewing figures over the past quarter century, we can get a better idea of the rise in popularity.

Year Sky UK vs Previous Year
2024 3,680,000 84.92%
2023 1,990,000 33.56%
2022 1,490,000 49.00%
2021 1,000,000 -0.65%
2020 1,006,553 52.90%
2019 658,300 -52.98%
2018 1,400,000 130.64%
2017 607,000 -33.15%
2016 908,000 -39.47%
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In 1999 the final between Peter Taylor and Peter Manley saw 200,000 turn on Sky Sports to watch the two giants go head-to-head. An impressive figure in isolation but a sense that nobody quite knew what was to come.

Fast forward only two years and Taylor’s 7-0 whitewash of John Part was witnessed by more than double the audience of 1999. Dartsmania was starting to seep through the veins of the United Kingdom.

However, even 400,000 would be blown out of the water by 2007. This was the year in which Raymond van Barneveld slayed the beast which was Peter Taylor and a sudden-death 7-6 victory for the Dutchman would be played out in front of a first-ever 1m+ television audience.

TWsk, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Darts boom had truly begun and although there have been peaks and troughs since the 2007 final, another game for the ages at the start of 2023 would make sure that the biggest ever television audience was recorded to date.

Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen in a game for the ages, a game that is likely never to be beaten in terms of drama. An audience that would have to go some way to be beaten, as just short of 2,000,000 viewers watch proceedings unfold.

While beaten it was in 2024 and with the sporting world being caught up in ‘LittlerMania’, the final between 16-year-old Luke Littler and Luke Humphries would generate a peak viewing audience of 3,680,000. 

84.92% up on the previous year and a figure that suggests that the sport is in rather rude health and perhaps more importantly, it also gives Barry Hearn the opportunity to squeeze more money out of Sky Sports or maybe even a rival broadcaster. 

Almost a 1740% increase in viewing figures from 1999 to 2024. If you did not think Darts was part of the British psyche before reading this article, then you certainly can believe it is now. Then again, it is not just these shores that love arrows, popularity is also increasing on the continent.

Namely the Netherlands and Germany and we can also track the World Championship viewing figures across the past 20 years or so: 

Year Germany SPORT1 Netherlands
2024 2,860,000  
2023 2,360,000  
2022 1,650,000  
2021 1,550,000  
2020 1,590,000 1,200,000
2019 1,490,000 1,540,000
2018 2,150,000 864,000
2017 1,480,000 2,170,000
2016 950,000 869,000
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Anything the United Kingdom can do, the Germans can do even just as well and with 2.86m viewers watching the 2024 World Championship final – 500,000 higher than the year before, this set a record viewership for a nation that does not necessarily house a Darts powerhouse of their own.

With so many British stars stepping up to the oche, you can understand why the popularity is found up and down the country. Whereas in Germany, it seems to be simply a sporting discipline that captured the imagination of many.

While the rise has been rather sharp in a shorter space of time. Only 15 years ago Sport 1 were commanding audiences of 340,000 for the final. In 2024, that figure had multiplied by a factor of eight.

Then again, we should not rule out the Netherlands from the equation either. With this being the home of legendary names such as Michael Van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld, there are some obvious icons to cheer on each year.

Sven Mandel, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Since 2011, the coverage has gone from SBS6 to RTL7 and even with a change of platform, audience figures have been largely positive with the highest point being 2.17m viewers for the 2017 final between van Gerwen and Scotland’s Gary Anderson.

Now we know that television audiences are booming, we can also measure the popularity of the sport in a different way. The next measure comes in the form of prize money and if there are many eyeballs on the sport, this should eventually transfer over to bigger incentives being offered.

An increase in viewership leads to a higher calibre of sponsors. That higher calibre is then prepared to offer more sponsorship revenue, which filters down to the men and women at centre stage.

Again we will take the World Championship as a barometer for growth and see just how much prize money has risen over the years:

Year Total Champion Runner-up
1994 £64,000 £16,000 £8,000
1995 £55,000 £12,000 £6,000
1996 £62,500 £14,000 £7,000
1997 £99,500 £45,000 £10,000
1998 £72,500 £20,000 £10,000
1999 £104,000 £30,000 £16,000
2000 £111,000 £31,000 £16,400
2001 £125,000 £33,000 £18,000
2002 £205,000 £50,000 £25,000
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In 1994 – the first year in which the PDC World Championships were held, the prize pot was a modest £64,000 and of that pot, £16,000 would eventually find its way into the pocket of Dennis Priestley.

A modest figure that could be sustained for the next two years, as the overall prize pots fell to £55,000 and £62,500, respectively and Phil Taylor would earn just £12,000 and £14,000 after earning back-to-back titles.

Dartsman0003, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

An unexpected burst in prize money in 1997 saw the overall prize pot leap to £99,500 in 1997 and once again Taylor would be on top. This time an additional £45,000 would soon be transferred to his bank account.

Unfortunately for ‘The Power’ his fourth successive title would only generate £20,000 in winnings, as the prize pot was once again decreased. Not good news for the players involved, as they were competing for a total of just £72,500.

However, 1999 would see the beginning of a new trend and from this year the total pot never decreased. At the very worst it would hold steady, but year-on-year increases were much more the normality.

To the point where the period between 2019 and 2024 would offer an overall prize pot of £2.5m. Nearly 40 times bigger than what was first up for grabs in 1994 and the winner would be taking home £500,000 as opposed to £16,000.

Not only that, but the runner-up would be taking home a cool £200,000 for themselves. Suddenly Darts had become a profession rather than a pastime and it is not just the World Championships that are handing out impressive financial inducements today.

Tournament Opening Year 2023 % Increase
Darts World Cup £150,000 £450,000 200.00%
Grand Slam Of Darts £300,000 £550,000 83.33%
World Matchplay £42,400 £800,000 1786.79%
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If we look at the prize pots of three other majors and compare their inaugural edition to the latest, we can see the jump in scale.

The Grand Slam Of Darts which is the closest thing to a Champions League model has seen an 83.3% increase in its prize pot from 2007 to 2021. While the Darts World Cup has seen a tripling of its prize pot from 2010 to 2023.

Impressive increases for both tournaments but still completely blown out of the water when we look at the World Matchplay. Humble beginnings in 1994 saw £42,400 handed out in prize money, that figure now stands at £800,000 – an increase of 1786%.

Æthelred, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Should we stay on the topic of the Darts World Cup, we can also gauge the increase in global popularity by looking at the number of nations that have competed in the tournament since its inception.

Since the inaugural edition of the competition in 2010, no fewer than 44 nations have made at least one entry and that number will swell even further in 2023 as three more will make their tournament debut.

What was a 32-team competition has now expanded to 40 and it has now welcomed Iceland, Ukraine and Bahrain to proceedings. Something that only further highlights the footprint that Darts is commanding across the globe.

While here is a snapshot of each of the nations that have been ever-present between 2010 and 2022:

Country Value
England 13
Netherlands 13
Australia 13
Scotland 13
Wales 13
Northern Ireland 13
Canada 13
United States 13
Ireland 13
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Of those 18 nations that have never missed out on either automatic or earned qualification to the Darts World Cup, we are now going to drill further into the top 10 list and see how much Google traffic in each location.

The way to do this is by taking a 90-day sample of Google trends and taking the average value of this three-month window. While the important thing to consider here is that the window will include the 2022 Darts World Championship.

Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means that there was not enough data for this term.

Country Trends Average Value
United States 54.7
Canada 31.2
Australia 20
Wales 19.3
England 16.4
Norhern Ireland 15.8
Scotland 13.6
Ireland 12.9
Netherlands 8.6
Germany 8.1
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As we can see it is the United States that tops the average trend value and when you consider that there were 17 million darts players as of 2019, you can understand why this search term has seen a large amount of activity in the past few months.

Then again, the same can be said for their North American cousins, as Canada finds itself second in the list with an average trends value score of 31.2 and this is enough to nudge Australia into third.

From here it is Great Britain that rules the roost, with the next four places being locked out by this quartet. However, one point that could be argued is whether the United Kingdom or Great Britain would have generated a higher individual if the nations were grouped.

At an average of 16.6, the answer to this is no. However, an average still keeps Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany at bay. However, it is interesting that the latter two are ninth and tenth in the list when you consider the television audiences for the World Championships.

Unsurprisingly, the 90 data sample peak is found at the end of December and at the start of January. Here is where Google Trends highlights the maximum interest in the sport across all 10 nations in our sample. 

But what if we took an average of the World Championships only? From the 21st of December to January 3rd, the average looks as follows: 

Country Trends Average Value
United States 72.2
Canada 55.9
Wales 52.7
Northern Ireland 51.5
Ireland 51.5
Australia 50.2
England 47.2
Scotland 44.2
Germany 37
Netherlands 36.7
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Once again the North American duo lock out the top two places, but Australia has to make do with only being sixth in the list. This is due to a concentration of interest from the Celtic trio of Wales, Northern Ireland, and Ireland.

Part of the reason for Wales’ increase in popularity during this spell can be attributed to the antics of former champion Gerwyn Price. You may remember that Price was sporting noise-canceling headphones and set social media ablaze because of it.

The Welshman may have lost that evening but the sport definitely won as a whole and that is part of the reason why the sport is only increasing in popularity. Each of the biggest names has an element of character behind them.

Whether by accident or design, there is certainly a good versus bad narrative throughout the sport and these subplots and ructions have a habit of only turning the drama up another notch or two.

Gone are the days when this was simply a pastime played in smoky pubs with dimly lit dartboards. Now the Alexandra Palace is the hottest ticket in town over the Christmas period and if the momentum of 2024 can be continued, 2025 could be an even bigger event.   

Current World Darts Championship Betting

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Editorial Information

This article was researched, written, and fact-checked by OLBG's Sports Data Analyst Dan Tracey - Edited and published by Steve Madgwick - Additional comments and quotes come from our in-house Darts Expert Matthew Edgar, an English darts player currently competing in Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) events.

Dan Tracey

Data and Words

Dan Tracey is a multi-talented writer, data analyst and podcaster whose six-year career in the sports data sphere has seen incredible successes. From helping UEFA create their annual technical reports to writing articles for Sports Betting Websites including sites like TheLinesUS and Goal - there's no shortage of areas where his expertise shines through! In addition, he can be heard on podcasts lending an insightful voice as well as providing weekly betting angles - all culminating with him teaming up OLBG.com in the present day. Simply put: wherever you find angled data being crunched? You'll also likely find Dan not far behind!

👨‍🏫 Specialist Subjects🔬📚

Dan's specialist area is data; and lots of it! Wherever we need numbers to create our unique deep dive articles, Dan is our go-to. Dan is also a Tottenham Fan and a football commentator for Newcastle Blue Star

- Dan Tracey, Data scientist and football editor

Matthew Edgar

OLBG Sponsored Darts Professional

Matthew Edgar, born on August 28, 1986, is an English professional darts player currently targeting the WDF World championships at Lakeside in December 2024 and commentating on Darts for Sky Sports. Known for his practice sessions with former world championship runner-up Kevin Painter, Edgar began his sports career as a coach for Northampton Town before shifting to darts. Prior to his darts career, he trained in mixed martial arts and was a professional wrestler. Edgar also hosts a dedicated darts YouTube channel, "Edgar TV," where he interacts with followers and shares his professional competition experiences.

Follow Matthew as he targets Lakeside and the WDF World Championships in December 2024.

- Matthew Edgar, Darts editor and wdf professional

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