The Roar
The Roar


Australian netball dreams big: Gunning for free-to-air, prime time with rights deal

Romelda Aiken for the Queensland Firebirds. (AAP Image/Ben Macmahon)
10th May, 2016

The Australian netball landscape, and potentially women’s sport in this country, could be transformed next season, as the television rights deal for the sport is being negotiated.

Roy Masters revealed in today’s Sydney Morning Herald that Channel Nine and Telstra are the likely winners from the deal, with current broadcaster Ten set to lose the rights.

Currently, Channel Ten plays one ANZ Championship game a week live, on Sundays at midday. The rest are shown live on Fox Sports.

Netball Australia has expressed their surprise at the reports from News Corp and Fairfax that New Zealand teams will be chopped from the competition in a joint statement with Netball New Zealand.

“Netball New Zealand (NNZ) and Netball Australia (NA) are surprised by the speculation and information that was published in Australian media today.”

“We are close to reaching agreement with key parties in regard to the shape and format of the 2017 competition, and look forward to making a joint announcement next week.”

Under the new reported deal, Nine will show games live in prime time around the country, and will sign on with Telstra as digital partners for five years.

All the New Zealand teams will be cut from the current competition, with three new Australian teams to be added to the mix. It is believed NRL club the Melbourne Storm are interested in bringing a team to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, while AFL club Collingwood may start a team in Melbourne.

The third team under the slated new arroungement is likely to come from Sydney to accompany the NSW Swifts.


This means that the Tactix, Steel, Magic, Mystics and Pulse will all be chopped from the competition, as matches between Australian and New Zealand teams fail to rate for the current broadcaster.

If the new deal is locked in, the bump to coverage is going to be significant, as is the boost in investment from the NRL and AFL clubs.

All of that said, it’s clear the game’s governing body has a different view if they’re surprised by the reports. It could be that the New Zealand clubs are going nowhere.

Melbourne Storm CEO Dave Donaghy told News Corp that while it was not set in stone, the Sunshine Coast offered a great opportunity:

“We have expressed an interest in securing a licence. Netball is the No.1 female participation sport in the nation and there are 6000 registered participants in the Sunshine Coast catchment.

“We haven’t been informed by Netball Australia of our success or not in the bid process and once it’s finalised, there would still be a licence agreement to complete.

“There is still some way to go but it is an exciting opportunity.”

With the success of the WBBL on Ten, Channel Nine having recently shown the Australian Jillaroos vs New Zeland Kiwi Ferns on free-to-air last Friday, and with the AFL kicking off a women’s series next year, women’s sport is finally coming to the fore in the Aussie television landscape.


Now it appears netball could be an integral player in this brave new world.