“Mighty Mike” van Gerwen (Premier League champion) and Rob “Voltage” Cross (World Champion) are among 10 professional darts stars who will compete in the 2018 Premier League season, Britain’s biggest indoor sporting event (to get a feel for pro darts, watch this funny or die video). Elite players will compete head-to-head over the course of a 16-week season, with the Top 4 advancing to a play-off in May. BBC America will air the action (known as Thursday Night Darts: Premier League 2018) on American television for the first time this evening at 10p EST, with BBCAmerica.com airing the competition live at 2p EST. BBCA President Sarah Barnett explains professional darts as “a fringe sport like no other – it appeals to the obsessive soccer fan, requires the skill of poker and has some of the high entertainment quota of wrestling.”
Howie Long-Short: BBC America is jointly owned by BBC Worldwide (a subsidiary of BBC, a British public service broadcaster and AMC Networks (AMCX). AMCX reported Q3 ’17 operating income (+31% to $153 million), net income (+34% to $87 million) and subscribers (+15 million) all grew significantly YOY; as revenue increased 2% (to $648 million). Concerns about AMC’s The Walking Dead franchise exist, as ratings have declined over the last several seasons; but CEO Josh Sapan says those fears are overblown, as the show remains as “creatively vibrant as ever and incredibly vital to an enormous and very loyal audience.” Shareholders better hope he’s right, the company is planning a spinoff series, gaming properties and VR apps related to the franchise.
Fan Marino: BBC America acquired the rights to the 2018 Premier League Season from Matchroom Sports, a company founded by the English promoter Barry Hearn and currently run by his son Eddie. If you’re a boxing fan, you’ve heard their names before; IBF & WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is in their stable of fighters. Joshua has a fight scheduled with WBO champion Joseph Parker for March 31st; while WBC champion Deontay Wilder is scheduled to fight Luis Ortiz on March 3rd. Wilder is openly rooting for Joshua, he’d like to unify the division (and set-up a massive payday) should both win.