Netball Australia Inks Historic TV Deal With Nine, Unveils 3 New Teams

It’s a bumper day in the world of Australian Netball, with the rapidly-rising sport announcing a total revamp of the national competition and a giant new TV broadcast rights deal to go with it.
Netball Australia today confirmed long-held suspicions that the Australian league would split from its trans-Tasman relationship with New Zealand, with the respective national competitions now parting ways for the first time since 2007.
The national governing body of the sport today announced that the revamped national league will feature the 5 Australian teams currently competing in the ANZ Championship – the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Vixens, NSW Swifts, Queensland Firebirds, and the West Coast Fever. However, the league will expand to 8 teams, with three preferred franchise bidders announced today: the Melbourne Storm of the NRL, and the AFL‘s Greater Western Sydney Giants and Collingwood Football Club.

The Storm’s franchise will most likely be based out of the University of the Sunshine Coast, meanwhile the Giants franchise bid is made in partnership with Netball NSW and will be based in Sydney. Collingwood’s netball franchise will operate out of Melbourne and will utilise the same Holden Centre facilities that their AFL squad currently occupies.

In addition, Netball Australia announced a massive, groundbreaking TV rights deal with the Nine Network and Telstra that puts it among the very first of its kind for women’s sport in Australia. Under the deal, Nine will broadcast two games per week live, back-to-back in prime time on Saturday nights. The games will also be available to stream on the network’s 9Now service.
Telstra will deliver live broadcast to mobile devices in a similar manner which they currently cover both the NRL and the AFL, with a live pass subscription-style service expected. The app will cover every game of the netball season.

Netball Australia chief executive Kate Palmer heralded the announcement as the biggest day in Australian netball history.

“It’s time for our sport to take another leap forward, to challenge the norm, to be innovative and to take more risks.”

“It is truly transformative. 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. At the grass roots, it will encourage participation and allow girls and young women to realise their dream of a career in netball.”

Meanwhile, QLD Firebirds star player Laura Geitz stated that the new national league has wide-ranging implications for the quality of Australian netball, which in turn will foster increased participation amongst young women and girls, and will ultimately result in a far strong Australian Diamonds national side.

“This allows more girls to be out on court … as a result, we’ll see a stronger Australian Diamonds side.”

“[We can now see] these wonderful women playing, this wonderful game, and know that they too can grow up and head down the path of being a professional athlete.”

“I hope that we continue to encourage that message across to all of our participants coming through grass roots.”

The ANZ Championship has been enjoying extremely solid viewership and live attendance numbers, both of which have been growing steadily as the sport captures the attention of more and more Australians. The new league and TV deal pushes women’s domestic netball in Australia forward from being a semi-professional sport all the way to the brink of being a full-time professional for our athletes.

The five-year TV deal and the new national league will come into effect from the 2017 season onwards.
This is, not to put too fine a point on it, absolutely MASSIVE for women’s sport in Australia. Fuck yeah, netball!
Source: ABC News.
Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty.