Darts first flourished as a televised sport in the 1970s and '80s with numerous televised tournaments, even though Britain only switched on its fourth terrestrial channel in 1982. Under the stewardship of the British Darts Organisation (BDO) he best players could earn a living as professionals, the sport was booming and there was even a popular TV quiz show, Bullseye, based on the game.
But just as all seemed set fair, a series of inter-related problems damaged the professional game. True to its pub roots, competitors could be seen smoking and drinking on stage during matches. Not only did that lead to ridicule from some outside the sport, but sponsors became increasingly reluctant to associate themselves with that kind of imagery. The final straw came as television executives cut back on coverage, to the point in 1989 only the BDO World Championships remained on screen.
Withe reduced TV coverage and sponsorship, top players were not earning the money they once did and faced a crisis. They put pressure on the BDO to rescue the situation, but when nothing happened the group decided to act.
Feeling provoked by the actions of some of its players, the BDO banned members of the fledgling World Darts Council from taking part in its tournaments. The 1993 World Professional Dart Championship was the last unified world championship. While the BDO had a long relationship with the BBC, the new players' grouping forged links with the emerging satellite broadcaster Sky and a new era of televised darts was born.
After several years of acrimony an olive branch was extended on both sides, with the BDO accepting players could compete on ether side of the fence and the players' group recognising the BDO's role as guardian of the game. At the same time the World Darts Council became the Professional Darts Corporation.
Though there is greater harmony and even challenge events between the two bodies' star players there remains two annual world championships and two world champions.