"Viewing figures are second only to Premier League football" - PDC chairman Eddie Hearn credits Luke Littler for rising popularity of darts

Darts is arguably as widely popular as it has been in a long long time. A lot of that recent success, the sport owes that in part to the rise of Luke Littler.

The then 16-year-old Littler caused a sensation at the last World Darts Championship, where he managed to reach the final as a debutant. PDC chairman Eddie Hearn also saw that reflected in the ratings. "We're seeing our viewing figures, the one thing is darts is continuously disrespected really as a sport," Hearn recently told Piers Morgan. "The viewing figures are second only to Premier League football, and actually during the World Championship, they were on the same level as Premier League football. No other sport, you go and look at these viewing figures, the tennis, the golf on Sky versus darts."

Littler was also invited to the Premier League Darts this year. Although not everyone was convinced this was a good choice. "During that period (World Darts Championship ed.), the PDC board make their final selection about the Premier League, which is our weekly roadshow around the UK and now Europe as well," Hearn recalls. "At this point, Luke had just got into the semi-finals and we said, 'You've got to put Luke Littler in.'"

"There was a lot of members of the board who really care deeply about darts who said, 'Now we have a duty to protect this young man," he continues. "'He's 16, do we really want to be putting him under that pressure and on this stage, week in, week out,' and our answer was, 'Yeah, absolutely, sling him in.'"

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PDC Eddie Hearn Luke Littler

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