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ESPN secures rights to PDC European Darts Championship

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Darts
ESPN has agreed a deal to broadcast the PDC European Darts Championship next month, featuring 15-time World Champion Phil 'The Power' Taylor.

Ray Stubbs will present live and exclusive coverage of the knockout tournament from Mülheim, Germany, as ESPN and the Professional Darts Corporation team up for the first time to show a major darts event.

The championship will see 32 players battling it out over four days for the £200,000 prize pot, including Taylor, who has won all four European Championship titles since the event's inception in 2008.

Other players in contention include double PDC World Champion Adrian Lewis, who was the runner-up to Taylor in last year's European Championship, world number three James Wade, Holland's five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, and Australian favourite Simon Whitlock.

Jeroen Oerlemans, the vice-president of TV Channels at ESPN EMEA, said: "We're delighted to add more top-class darts to ESPN's great sporting line-up.

"Our live and exclusive coverage of the European Darts Championship will bring viewers some of the best players in the world competing for one of the most prestigious trophies in darts.

"We'll continue to look to add more darts programming as we expand and solidify the range of our programming."

PDC Chairman Barry Hearn added: "The PartyPoker.net European Darts Championship has established itself as one of our most exciting and colourful events over the past four years, and it is a pleasure to welcome ESPN as our broadcast partner for the 2012 event.

"Last year, we saw the emergence of Kim Huybrechts as he took part in a major PDC event for the first time as well as a thrilling nine-darter by Adrian Lewis and his great final with Phil Taylor, and I'm sure that September's tournament will be equally memorable for the fans in Germany and viewers on ESPN."

The championship gets underway on September 20, with rounds split across Thursday and Friday nights, and then the second round played across two sessions on September 22.

The quarter-finals will take place in the afternoon on September 23, followed by the semi-finals and final later that evening, when one player will scoop the £50,000 top prize.

ESPN's move for the darts event follows recent deals to renew its rights to European football action, including Bundesliga, Serie A, Russian Premier League and, for the first time, French Ligue 1.

The broadcaster has also agreed a new deal to the Scottish Premier League following the dramatic fall from grace of Glasgow Rangers due to financial troubles. The revamped deal also includes rights to games featuring the Rangers Newco in the Scottish third division.

Later this month, ESPN will start its final year of broadcast rights to the English Premier League, after recently losing out in the new multi-billion pound rights auction to telecoms giant BT.

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