'I was surprised how well it worked', Barry Hearn defends new Premier League darts format

Premier League darts has undergone a number of changes this year, with the tournament adopting an entirely new format for 2022, but has it been a success?

Despite facing some criticism from fans about the repetitiveness of the new Premier League darts format, Professional Darts Corporation President Barry Hearn has defended the decision to make changes to the tournament.

The new changes to the tournament introduced eight players going head-to-head on a weekly basis, with the winner of each night picking up five points, the runner-up receiving three and both losing semi-finalists claiming two.

The points are tallied up in a league table, and the top four after Night 16 enter the play-offs, set to take part on June 13 in Berlin.

Jonny Clayton, Michael van Gerwen, James Wade and Joe Cullen are the quartet taking part in this year's showpiece.

It's expected to perform well in regards to television viewings, and it's on that basis that Hearn has defended the changes, with this year's tournament performing superbly when it comes to ticket sales and TV ratings.

"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," said Hearn.

"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.

"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."

Hearn added that the PDC had actually budgeted for a decrease of ticket sales this year following the Covid-19 pandemic and changes to the tournament.

But with the new format attracting bigger crowds throughout the year, the 73-year-old sees no reason why the tournament will change in the forseeable future.

"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." said Hearn.

With Hearn insisting that the format is here to stay, we can look forward to crowning the first champion of the new era next week in Berlin.

READ MORE: PDC confirm World Series of Darts will return to Madison Square Garden in 2023

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