Barry Hearn confirms Premier League darts plan for 2023 after feedback

Barry Hearn says the new format for Premier League darts has exceeded expectations in its first year, despite criticism from some fans.

For 2022, the nomadic darting roadshow has undergone a revamp, with eight players playing in a mini competition each week with quarter-finals, semis and a final. The winner on the night collects five points, plus a £10,000 bonus, the runner-up receives three points and the losing semi-finalists get two each.

The league phase has been completed with the play-offs, in his usual format, taking place in Berlin on June 13 between Jonny Clayton, Michael van Gerwen, James Wade and Joe Cullen.

The format has received mixed reviews from fans, with some complaining it is too repetitive, but PDC president Hearn is delighted with how the new-look tournament has taken shape, revealing bumper ticket sales and TV viewing figure.

“A lot of people said it sounded a bit samey, the same eight guys playing in a competition for 16 weeks and four of them making the play-offs,” Hearn, who handed the chairmanship of the PDC over son Eddie last year, told the Weekly Dartscast.

“When you say it like that, it sounds like we’re taking a bit of a chance but what we actually did is create 16 local winners. We created a lot more interest among bookmakers because it was a proper competition that had an end each night.

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“I was surprised by how well it worked. The TV ratings are up, the audience appreciation schedules that we prepare are up. They feel a bit more involved because there is an end to the event that they bought a ticket for. It’s something that will stay next year and we will continue to monitor it.”

The PDC had been expecting a decline in ticket sales for the first Premier League played in front of unrestricted crowds since 2019, but Hearn added: “We budgeted for a 25 per cent reduction in ticket sales this year because of the Covid effect and also because we were taking a chance on a new format.

“We actually hit eight per cent over what we were previously getting. That was a very serious number that we would be mad not to take into account.”

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