World Darts Championship scores fresh audiences for Sky and its sponsors

This article first appeared in Campaign on 05/01/24.

The unprecedented 3.7 million-strong audience for Sky’s final of the World Darts Championship between Luke Humphries and Luke Littler included more younger viewers and a larger number from the ABC1 audience than the broadcaster's previous darts programming.

Overall, almost half (46%) of the viewers of the final were new to watching darts on TV and nearly a quarter (23%) were aged 16-34, an increase of 77% on previous darts coverage.

Pre-championship, ABC1 profile viewers typically made up 47% of the audience. This increased to 64% for the Humphries vs Littler face-off, representing a more upmarket audience than Sky typically attracts for darts events on TV.

Overall, the final on 3 January took a peak audience of 3.7 million viewers across Sky Sports Main Event (two million) and Sky Sports Arena (1.7 million) – the best performing day on record for Sky Sports Arena. 

Across both Sky and Now, the final reached a total of 4.5 million viewers.

The success of the coverage has been a boon for broadcast and digital sponsor Wickes, which has worked with darts on Sky since 2021.

Shelley Allison, head of marketing for core and trade at Wickes, said the brand has already seen an uplift in traffic following Wednesday night’s coverage of the final.

Allison said: “The darts sponsorship has been a successful activation for us and has provided a constant drumbeat of content throughout the year across the various tournaments, enabling us to extend across multiple platforms, including social, digital and TV. 

“It was important for us to create authentic and relevant content to help build a connection between us as a brand and the darts audience. As a result, during the World Championship we have already seen an uplift in traffic to the trade page of the website as well as an increase in organic searches for Wickes.”

Wickes’ multi-tournament sponsorship of darts on Sky was brokered by Dentsu’s Carat and sponsorship arm The Story Lab.

Carat client partner John Payne said: “Key to the success of the sponsorship has been the authenticity of the creative messaging and how it seamlessly blends the brand and the sport. 

“There’s a natural synergy and levity in the darts-based voiceover which elevates the tie-up to an authentic partnership, rather than idents bolted on to a show. The creative presents Wickes as a natural extension of the content, building a deeper connection between Sky’s audience and the Wickes TradePro brand.” 

PaddyPower became the title sponsor of the event in July, signing a three-year deal with the channel running to the end of the 2025-26 season, in which it pledged to make "significant investment” in the Professional Darts Corporation in return for brand inventory displayed throughout the competition.

Both Littler and Humphries have since confirmed they will make their Premier League Darts debut this year, which will run from February to May and is open for brand involvement.

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