Last Sunday night's dramatic, last-gasp, final black ball win by John Higgins over Ronnie O'Sullivan in snooker's Saga Insurance Masters at Wembley Conference Centre drew understandable comparisons with the 1985 Embassy World Championship final contested by Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis.
Twenty one years ago, more than ten million people remained glued to their screens well beyond midnight to watch Taylor over-come Davis in similar fashion, a performance for which the Ulsterman will always be remembered.
Yet the manner in which sport is broadcast to a more fragmented audience has changed markedly in the intervening years. This subtle factor will have puzzled BBC executives as they browsed through Sunday's impressive viewing figures for the Higgins-O'Sullivan showdown, because retaining an audience over several hours for a non-football sports event is not supposed to happen any more.
According to Michael Davies, executive producer of programmes such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and Wife Swap, two complementary influences are operating independently to ensure that viewers have fewer opportunities to sit through duels such as the one which enthralled millions of us on Sunday night.
Davies maintains that the combination of major sports' spiralling rights fees and the enormous number of alternative sources of sports news ensures that viewers have less inclination and less time to sit through all but the greatest sporting spectacles. Accordingly, alternative, bite-sized programming increasingly occupies a greater percentage of sporting broadcasts.
"Televised sports were developed around the idea of carving out an entire evening to show a game," said Davies. "But in the future, distribution platforms are going to deal with much shorter content.
"You can dip in and out of a poker [programme] in five-minute bits. People watch the reruns as much as the original broadcasts. Sports that people can watch for two, five or ten minutes will have a much greater possibility to reach more viewers."
Such content is, he believes, at the top of every sport broadcasters wishlist because it is capable of attracting that most sought-after audience of all - young (16-30), beer-drinking, car-buying, gadget-loving males.
In a few weeks, Davies and sports promoter Barry Hearn will officially launch the World Series of Darts, an event specifically made for an American television audience where the winner, should he be American, win $1 million.
The field will include the top 16 players in the Professional Darts Corporation's (PDC) rankings and 16 US qualifiers. According to Hearn, who happens to double as chairman of the PDC, the size of the prize will attract enormous attention, even though should a non-US national emerge as the tournament's winner, he will collect a 'mere' $100,000.
"The thing about darts," said the irrepressible Hearn, " is that once you start watching it, you can't turn the television off."
It's the sport's dip-in and d ip-out nature which appeals to broadcasters, more than 100 of whom took last year's PDC World Championship, with more than a third screening the event live. Indeed, so popular is the game in Malaysia and the Philippines that the championship can only be seen on a pay-per-view basis.
Whereas snooker players with their gentlemanly, after-dinner, attire can ponder over shots (and the following two or three) against a backdrop of reverential silence, the atmosphere at a darts tournament is completely different.
"There is an expression," said Michael Davies, "that you can take darts out of the pub, but you can never take the pub out of darts. It has an underground feel to it that really works on television."
It was certainly evident at the recent PDC World Championships at the Circus Tavern, where more than 500,000 pints of beer were downed during the event in Purfleet.
It's not difficult to appreciate televised darts' appeal. Mix in a slightly unruly, alcohol-induced atmosphere, the constant background noise of a roaring crowd with loud, boxing-style announcers barking out every score and sprinkle in decent prize money and you have a unique setting.
Indeed, darts falls squarely into sport's sister category, the one marked 'entertainment'. The game is never likely to offer staid, occasionally tedious, matches because the action is over so rapidly, something which accounts for its appeal to broadcasters.
According to Bob Chesterman, a television producer at ESPN, the broadcaster that will screen the World Series of Darts event in Connecticut in May, darts has the potential to reach the same, previously untapped but incredibly large audience which follows poker.
"The everyman appeal is the same," he said. "You could see yourself sitting at [the] poker table and you can see yourself throwing those darts.
"For something to catch on, it has to have characters, stories and real competition, man against man. For our audience, that's the perfect equation. And darts has all of that."
So does snooker. But in a bite-sized age, viewers are demanding similarly-sized sporting entertainment, something which darts delivers with the pace and directness of that unique, much-loved, frequentlycopied, rapidly ascending declaration: "One hundred and EIGHTY".