BBC Splits Deal with ESPN for 2012 BDO World Champs Rights

November 3, 2011

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has once again reduced its broadcasting portfolio after securing a deal with pay-TV broadcaster ESPN to jointly air the 2012 British Darts Organisation (BDO) World Professional Darts Championships in January.

ESPN has reached an agreement with BDO, the sport’s governing body, and BBC Sport to split coverage, with former BBC presenter Ray Stubbs lined up to anchor its output.

The sports broadcaster has secured the live and exclusive rights to the evening darts sessions of the tournament running from 9-13 January.

ESPN got its first taste of darts last month with the broadcasting of the 2011 Winmau World Masters. At the World Champs they will air one semi-final exclusively and highlights of the final, which take place on 14 and 15 January respectively.

The BBC will hold on to live and exclusive coverage of afternoon sessions on the opening weekend – 7 and 8 January – and run extended afternoon highlights on the four days following that, as well as a late-night highlights show on BBC2.

Come finals weekend the BBC, which uses presenter Colin Murray and former darts player Bobby George, will air one semi final and the final exclusively.

Commentary for both broadcasters will come from David Croft and Tony Green.

ESPN has also struck its first deals to air live golf and tennis programming in a bid to move into weekday daytime sports and build its sport portfolio beyond predominantly football and rugby.

The US broadcaster will air eight days of live coverage from the Australian PGA Championship and the Emirates Australian Open, both of which are held later this month.

ESPN will also broadcast the BNP Paribas Showdown next March, live from Madison Square Garden in New York, which is due to feature players including Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer.

This will be considered another blow for the BBC who last week had the French Open tennis rights taken away from them by ITV as their cost cutting continued. They also now will jointly broadcast the Formula One with Sky until 2018.

The only bright spot in the last few weeks for the corporation is their deal to keep the exclusive rights of grand slam tennis tournament Wimbledon until 2017.