Darts has risen from relative obscurity to a top-flight sport in just a few decades. Indeed, we’ve got plenty of articles that chart the history of darts and the sport's evolution. Now the sport is ranked among the world’s most popular, statistics have become more important than ever.
Yes, we know that numbers matter when you’re at the oche, but they also matter in other contexts. Indeed, for darts to be credited as a high-profile sport, it needs numbers. The good news is that it has numbers.
Another area darts has made its presence felt over the last decade is sports betting. People might have been making wagers with their mates for years, but today's dart betting scene is a completely different beast thanks to the internet. Even though football and horse racing still dominate, betting on darts has become extremely popular. We can deduce this from the fact online darts betting markets cover all the majors and feeder events.
From 3/1 odds on Michael van Gerwen to win the 2024 PDC World Championship, to Modus Super Series betting, online sportsbooks provide comprehensive coverage of all the top events in darts. In addition to thousands of annual odds, customers can read darts betting guides and tips. Add to these things a variety of promotions and live streams, and it’s easy to see why darts is part of an online betting industry that’s worth more than £3 billion.
Darts participation has gradually increased over the last three decades. Tracking darts participation isn’t easy because it’s hard to distinguish between serious players in pub leagues, aspiring pros and those who chuck a few arrows in their garage. Statista data shows a drop in participation between 2006 and 2016 from 119,800 to 67,400.
That’s a general statistic that covers all types of participation. Looking at those who class darts as their sport (i.e. they play on a weekly basis), the number of participants in England has gone from 7,400 in 2016 to almost 10,000 in 2020. Add to this the fact Google data shows an increase in searches for darts since 2004 and it’s fair to say interest is increasing.
Participation stats might be somewhat obscure and hard to track, but viewing figures aren’t. We know that major darts matches have been pulling in bigger and bigger audiences since the PDC produced fan-friendly events. Viewing figures from Sky Sports show a marked increase in viewership. 668,000 people watched the 2014 PDC World Championship final.
In 2023, 1.99 million people tuned in. That’s a significant uptick in viewership and the main reason modern darts is a multi-million-pound game. Indeed, when you look at the prize money stats, you can see they’ve risen in line with viewing figures. The PDC World Champion got £64,000 in 1994. Fast-forward to 2023 and Michael Smith banked £2.5 million for his win over Michael van Gerwen in the final.
The final area darts has strong numbers is in the innovation stakes. We noted how more people are playing darts. Wrapped up in this trend is the rise of darts bars. Venues such as Flight Club are making darts accessible to the masses by combining innovative boards with food, drink and music. This trend has created opportunities to innovate.
For example, augmented reality (AR) technology is taking Smart Darts to the next level. Boards are supplied in white, which allows the AR software to project any image a host wants onto it. This creates unique games that the casual punter loves.
Those are just some of the statistics that show darts is not only a strong sport but one that’s still growing. There have been peaks and troughs, but that happens in any sport. As it stands right now, darts is in a good place and, in our view, things are only going to get better.