Saturday 5 January saw the start of the 2019 BDO World Professional Darts Championship from the Lakeside in Frimley Green, Surrey. Input Media was there in force, with a core team of around 15 people, plus freelance support, on-site for ten days of host broadcasting.
Forty players from around the world had a crack at the title, and it was ultimately England’s Glen Durrant who triumphed, gaining a historic third world title in a row. On the women’s side, Japan’s rising star Mikuru Suzuki lifted the trophy after a flawless performance against number 1 seed Lorraine Winstanley. Mikuru had already beaten beat four-time winner and second seed Lisa Ashton in the first round, and from there she never looked back. She won the final 3-0 and didn’t drop a set all week.
Jonathan Parry, Exec Producer on the project, talks us through his experiences at Lakeside:
“This was our first outing with the BDO since the contract moved to Eurosport, who shared the coverage with Discovery’s free-to-air service Quest. We’ve signed a three-year deal via sports marketing specialists Sportotal to cover a number of BDO events, including the World Championships and Winmau Masters.
“What’s really interesting about this project was that we were again working directly with the federation – the BDO – as opposed to the broadcaster alone. This meant we could do even more to help them deliver a great TV tournament and improve the in-house show experience.
“In terms of putting on the show, it was a really decent darts-spec setup, featuring a nine-camera OB, including a long-armed jib and two super slo-mos for the final weekend. One super-slow-motion camera was fixed on the board for doubles and the other on the square-leg angle, turning round big player reactions.
“What a lot of people don’t realise is that darts is really difficult sport to cover accurately, with the hardest jobs being to vision mix to rapid-fire instructions, and to operate specialist board cameras effectively. Matches move very fast and total concentration is a key element in creating a good TV experience. You have to anticipate where every dart is going to land before it’s dispatched. That means using a dedicated spotter; someone employed specifically to call every dart and predict its direction according to the most likely checkout routes or based on the eyeline and body language of the players.
“The BDO supplied the spotter, Jordan Smithh, and he worked hand in glove with our highly experienced director, Graeme Spink. The rest of our broadcast team was an impressive line-up from the world of sports TV and radio. Nat Coombs was the main presenter, with Georgie Bingham delivering roving reports and interviews from around the venue. John Rawling was the anchor commentator, with punditry and additional commentary coming from a host of stars past and present, including Paul Nicholson, Chris Mason, Tony O’Shea and the inimitable Wolfie Adams. We even had guest spots for Lakeside legends Andy Fordham and Keith Dellar, with actor and grass roots darts fan Will Mellor making a cameo appearance.
“We were on air each afternoon from 1pm to around 5pm and then again for the evening session from 7pm till finish at around 10.30pm. Across nine days, it was a bit of a marathon, but it was well worth it. As well as being broadcast on Eurosport UK and Quest, coverage also went out on Eurosport Ireland, Holland and Australia, plus Sky in New Zealand. Audiences worldwide also tuned in via the federation’s YouTube channel, BDO TV, which enjoyed phenomenal ratings over the tournament – especially in Japan, where thousands of additional of viewers tuned in to watch ‘Baby Shark’ Suzuki win the Women’s final. While viewing figures are a matter of corporate confidentially for the Discovery Channels, it is understood that the BDO World Championships rated particularly well, and hit some of Quest Channels biggest audiences ever.”
Stephen Holland, Director of Sportotal Ltd, comments “Sportotal and the BDO found the Input Media team to be the ideal production partner for tournament. Input produced an extremely high quality television product for Eurosport and Quest, in addition to the BDO broadcast partners around the world, with the team bringing huge professionalism, expertise and enthusiasm to the event.”