Media Matters

Red Dragon Darts

‘Hello and a very warm welcome’. I am channeling my very best John McDonald to introduce you all to the very first Media Watch, a new column for Darts World.

Think ‘The Boardroom’, but rather than focusing on the business aspects, I will reflect on the sport’s media world, whether it be TV, print or anything else.

Given that this is the first DWM of 2023, I would be remiss not to discuss the PDC World Championship.

The game’s marquee event, the moment when it does feel like all tongues are wagging about the arraz. The apotheosis of media interest this year was very much centred on ‘that’ leg.

In the moment, as many of us watched on in pure bemusement, it was up to Sky Sports to deliver and encapsulate its significance. A speechless Wayne Mardle generated an instant commentary classic.

His ‘I can’t spake’ line was a reference to the rugby league broadcaster Mick Morgan, with Morgan uttering the words nearly 30 years ago in a Regal Cup final between Castleford and Wigan and was a nice moment of intertextuality between sports and commentators.

Sticking with Sky Sports, mention must also go to sometime DW contributor Emma Paton, who once again masterfully navigated the darts from the presenter’s chair during the course of the championships.

After the departure of Dave Clark, Sky rightfully identified the value of having a regular and consistent presenter to front the sport and didn’t wait too long before settling on Paton.

Sky’s faith in Paton was demonstrated in last year’s event, when she was given the nod for the tournament final ahead of Laura Woods, who was unlikely to ever be available to cover the sport regularly and has since left the corporation.

There are plenty of presenters, commentators and media personalities in darts that divide and attract opinion, but I have only ever sensed an accord of approval on Paton, a testament to her standard.

For me, however, the biggest positive change that Sky made to their broadcasting of the championship this year was the inclusion of Dan Dawson on the team. Perhaps long overdue, it made great sense to involve Dawson, who with his intricate knowledge of the PDC tour was a natural choice.

It was also nice to see the event receiving perhaps a little extra TLC this year as well. Experimentation with new camera angles, statistics and even extended previews to the event and build-ups to the final.

This is something that any sports fan would take for granted on an FA Cup or Wimbledon final day, so it seems just and proper that darts receives the same.

For those of us hankering for the wireless, the radio coverage of the championship was once again a superb option. I’d be lying if I said that it was my go-to for following the competition this year, but I did dip in and out of it and listened to it quite extensively during the World Matchplay.

Once again, it is an important recognition for the sport to have regular mainstream national radio coverage, and the team on there, notably Paul Nicholson, always offers interesting insights and perspectives.

There’ll be more on my Media Watch next time. If you have any comment on darts media ecosphere or ideas for further pieces, feel free to get in touch at @Dartsweb180.


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