Premier League Darts, a marquee television event in the U.K., has found a passionate audience domestically. More than 1.3 million viewers a week are tuning in to watch the competition on BBC America (linear network + online), an audience that rivals more well-established sports programming on ESPNU, FS2, MLB Network, NBA-TV and the NFL Network. BBCA’s success with darts isn’t just relative to rival programming through, the network is outpacing the ratings competitors drew for comparable events. The World Darts Championship was the highest-rated darts tournament on U.S. TV in 10 years, beating coverage on FS1, FS2 and ESPNU.
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 FY17 financials on March 1st, with CEO Josh Sapan touting “record financial results” as both net revenue (+1.8% to a record $2.8 billion) and adjusted operating income (+3% to a record $905 million) increased for the 7th straight year. Newly signed deals with fuboTV and Philo mean that “AMC Networks (is now) available on more virtual MVPDS than any other independent programmer”; a fact that speaks to the quality of their content, with 4 of the Top 10 dramas on cable (The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Better Call Saul and Into the Badlands). It needs to be noted that AMCX’s Q4 financials were not nearly as inspiring. Revenue (-1.3% to $606 million) and operating income (-5.2% to $195 million) declined; and the company was forced to write off $38 million in programming assets for “Hells on Wheels”, a show that last filmed in the summer of 2016.
Fan Marino: The 16-week Premiere League competition is nearing its halfway point. April 5th is Judgment Night, when the two bottom players will be sent home; narrowing the field to eight final contenders. The final night is set for May 17th at the O2 Arena in London.
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