What is the Difference Between the BDO and the PDC?

Dart board

The BDO stands for the British Darts Organisation and the PDC is the Professional Darts Council and they are both professional darts organisations.

Unlike most professional sports where there is one international organisation that oversees the game, its rules, regulations and tournaments, the professional game of darts is split into two.

Some players play within the British Darts Organisation and some players play within the Professional Darts Council. Both have their own tournaments throughout the year, including a world championship. This means that every year there are two concurrent darts world champions.

Please note: The BDO went into liquidation in September 2020.

Why are There Two Professional Darts Organisations, the PDC and BDO?

Originally, there was only one governing body for darts – the British Darts Organisation. Olly Croft founded the BDO in 1973 and the organisation continued being the leading world darts organisation until the early 1990s. It was the BDO that started a darts world championship competition in 1978 and was the culmination of the growing popularity of the sport.

The growing amounts TV coverage led to more and more players turning professional throughout the 1970s but in the early 1980s the game’s popularity began to decline. The game began to become a caricature of itself with players drinking and smoking on stage. It became the butt of jokes, particularly this famous sketch on Not the Nine O’Clock News.

The sport’s growing image problem gradually led to a significant reduction in both TV coverage and sponsorship, a fact that several of the professional players began to resent. In 1992, concern grew amongst the game’s top players over the BDO’s ability to rectify the situation and 16 of the world’s top players formed their own darts organisation called the World Darts Council (now known as the PDC).

The founding players were:

  • Phil Taylor
  • Eric Bristow
  • Rod Harrington
  • Peter Evison
  • Jamie Harvey
  • Richie Gardner
  • Dennis Priestley
  • Bob Anderson
  • Chris Johns
  • Jocky Wilson
  • Mike Gregory
  • Keith Deller
  • Alan Warringer
  • John Lowe
  • Cliff Lazarenko
  • Kevin Spiolek

The new PDC organisation signed a deal with Sky Sports, obtaining year-round coverage for tournaments, which also led to an increase in sponsorship and revenues in general. Several years of legal wranglings continued between the two organisations with players not being allowed to play in the other organisation’s tournaments.

Today, whilst the two organisations today are both successful in their own way, they are not by any means close. The two organisations and their players remain distinct from each other, although they do meet in the yearly Grand Slam of Darts Tournament held by the PDC, in which BDO players are invited.

The Differences Between the BDO and the PDC

Although both the BDO and PDC are professional darts organisations that have recognized tournaments and world championships, there are some significant differences between the two organisations:

Quality of Players

Ask most experienced darts commentators, viewers or fans and you’ll generally find an agreement that the quality of players in the PDC is somewhat better than those that play in the BDO. An analysis of averages from the 2015 world championships of the BDO and PDC by Brian Stokes support this fact.

Players in the PDC event all had 100+ averages from the quarter finals onwards. No player could manage a 100+ average in the BDO championship, however. The PDC tends to attract the higher quality players thanks to more prize money and sponsorship opportunities generally being offered.

Prestige of World Title

Thanks to the generally higher standard of the game in the PDC, the PDC World Championship title has gradually become the title that has the most prestige in the world of darts. However, a small number of people still think that the BDO version of the title carries more prestige, as the organisation was, of course, the first to be established.

TV Coverage

The only major tournament that gets significant TV coverage for the British Darts Organisation is their World Championships. The PDC, however, have a long-standing deal with Sky who televise numerous events throughout the year on their dedicated sports channels. Outside of the UK, both the BDO and PDC have televised events but the PDC tend to have more.

Women’s World Championships

The BDO have had a Women’s World Championship since 2001. The PDC, however, have only ever had one PDC World Women’s Championship event, which was back in 2009.