The Nine Network, Netball Australia and Telstra have announced a five-year agreement that will supercharge the national sport by providing netball fans with unprecedented access to domestic and international games.
The deal will significantly increase the exposure on free-to-air television of netball with Nine having all broadcast and other free media rights to:
- Two live games and two delayed games in the new national netball league each week, to be played as a prime-time, Saturday night double-header
- All international matches
- All Fast5 domestic and international championship games
- The Constellation Cup (Australia v New Zealand)
- The Quad Series (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England)
All these games will be seen on Nine’s broadcast platform as well as 9NOW.
Telstra will simulcast Nine’s two live games each week and provide the other two weekly games live on the “Netball Live” App, enabling fans to watch these games via subscription on their mobile devices.
Netball Australia confirmed together with Netball New Zealand that the existing ANZ Championship format will discontinue after the current season, with both organisations opting to form national netball leagues in their respective countries.
The broadcasting deal with Nine Network and Telstra ensures live free-to-air television for two games a week and live streaming and delayed television for all games from the 2017 season.
Kate Palmer, Chief Executive of Netball Australia, said “This is the most significant broadcasting rights agreement in the history of Australian women’s sport.
“It is truly transformative,” she said. “It lays the foundation for the full professionalisation of elite netball and the cementing of Australia’s reputation as having the prime netball competition in the world.”
The three preferred bidders for new teams are Collingwood Football Club, Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club (based at Storm’s Sunshine Coast facilities and in conjunction with the University of the Sunshine Coast) and Netball NSW (in a strategic alliance with GWS Giants). The five existing Australian ANZ Championship teams will transition to the new league, creating an eight-team competition.
Nine’s managing director, Amanda Laing, said: “Netball has long been the sleeping giant of Australian sport. It has a massive participation base and a national team who are ranked number one in the world as Commonwealth and World Cup Champions.
“Nine has a proud history of world-class sports coverage and our exceptional production and commentary teams are looking forward to bringing Australians the most compelling coverage of netball ever seen, highlighting the extraordinary athleticism and competitive spirit of the domestic and international teams.
“The other aspect of this deal which makes it so unique is that Nine and Netball Australia will work together to commercialise all the netball assets, whether that be signage and on-court assets or broadcast integration opportunities, and will share the revenue from such endeavours. We are both working collaboratively to grow the game and sponsorship engagement and revenue. It’s a great outcome for the athletes, the fans, the sponsors and the viewers at home.”
“It has long been accepted that a comprehensive free-to-air broadcasting arrangement is essential to maximise the development of women’s sport in Australia. This is such a deal and we are delighted to be part of such an historic development. It is now our duty to make it work for netball and women’s sport in general.”
Nine’s director of sport, Tom Malone, said: “Nine has led the way for 40 years when it comes to innovation in sports broadcasting. Once again, Nine is embarking on a bold new sporting initiative by elevating netball with free-to-air, prime-time exposure, live and free, and on our digital platforms. There is a huge appetite amongst sponsors, advertisers, participants and viewers for women’s sport. Netball Australia has some of the best athletes in the country and the new Australian netball competition will unquestionably be the number one competition in the world.
“We are very proud to be part of this landmark deal that puts netball in its rightful position amongst Australia’s biggest national sports. Better still, we’ll be investing in and growing the sport together.”
Further details about the national competition and the broadcasting agreement will be announced in the coming weeks.