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Netball Australia is about to sign a record-breaking broadcast contract for the sport’s super netball competition Nine Network and Foxtel are expected to outbid other outlets seeking access to the sport’s unrivaled double-digit audience growth percentage

It’s a very different environment than it was in 2016, when Nine took on production costs while the network and the sports association reached an agreement to split the advertising revenue

Super Netball Commission Chair Marina Go believes the deal will fuel the growth of other sports broadcast modalities as well

“However, the Commission has a number of strategic goals that we want to achieve for the League and its stakeholders over the next five years, and we believe that the next broadcasting agreement will allow us to achieve those goals”

“The next agreement will be the first step in the league’s growth with the hope that the value created for Australia’s premier women’s sport over the next five years will translate into a more balanced outcome for future broadcasts the gender lead will be deals for all sports “

Since 2017, Super Netball’s audience growth has surpassed all other sports, including AFL and NRL, every year, even during the COVID-hit Winter 2020

During the same period, Netball Australia doubled the size of its business from $ 14 million to $ 28 million, with a dual focus – Super Netball’s national competition and the internationally recognized and hugely successful Diamonds national team

According to Colin Smith, Director of Media Rights Value at Global Media and Sports, which provides strategic advice to broadcasters and numerous sports, including netball, Super Netball is unique in a crowded marketplace

“It’s one of the few sports in Australia that has grown the television audience significantly,” he says

“Before COVID, most sports were flatlining or exhibiting negative growth, while the audience for Super Netball has increased by about 20 percent over this period

“I would say this was the first women’s league in Australia that was truly world class”

Super netball attracts some of the world’s best players and, according to Smith, is the “equivalent of a Champions League or Premier League”

Developing super netball as a television product was perhaps the greatest game of chance the sport has ever played

The Sports Federation’s decision to part ways with the Trans-Tasmanian ANZ Championship in 2016 was hoping that a purely domestic competition would appeal to broadcasters and end a relationship in which Netball Australia would share part of the production costs for the original acquisition of the Play on air exposed to the huge base of the base

At the heart of Super Netball’s current deal, which expires later this year, was then Nine’s CEO, now Foxtel’s Chief Commercial and Content Officer, Amanda Laing

She says that while she had no personal experience with netball, it was evident from her conversations with others that “this was a sport that many, many Australians – men and women – had a deep affection and attachment for”

“I knew if we could find a way to raise the profile of the sport and its players, it could actually be a ‘sleeping giant’,” she says

Numerous stakeholders have attributed the game’s commercial success on television to Laing They believed she was more willing to try the game than many of the other media managers who reached out to men – all men

“It’s important to note that there were a lot of people involved in the airing of Super Netball – Nine’s heads of ad sales, heads of sports sales, heads of sports, program directors, and the CEO – all men”Laing told The Ticket

“I would like to believe that the massive participation base and unrealized potential of netball would have appealed to anyone who has stopped thinking about the sport, whether male or female”

If netball as a product differs from other women’s sports competitions, the fact is that those who play the game are not constantly compared to male counterparts

“Not only does it benefit from not being seen or referred to as the ‘women’s version’ of a men’s game, but it is also the best competition in the world with an extraordinarily successful national team

“I think this is one of the most interesting topics in sport – how do we change the narrative and vocabulary around sport so that we look at the differences between the way women and men play sport, and both consider as equitable legitimate and worthy “

The professionalization and enhancement of a media profile is not without growing pain, as netball has experienced in the past year

Two teams were fined in 2020 for violating the salary cap Super netball’s lack of diversity has been brought into the spotlight, and a controversial goodbye to players led to questions about whether referee standards could keep up with changes in game quality

The recent State of the Game Review identified areas for improvement for administrators, but they are not alone in their pursuit of growth

The Australian Netball Players Association will negotiate a new Collective Players Agreement (CPA) with Netball Australia once the Super Netball Broadcast Agreement has been signed

Kathryn Harby-Williams, Association CEO and former Diamonds captain, believes that becoming more professional and increasing individual earnings is not an “at any cost” scenario

She says elite netball players do not position themselves as bigger than the game, but are guardians of the sport with a mission to keep netball in even better shape than they found it to be

“Our CPA will be released in late 2021 and we’ve just been working on a players manifesto,” says Harby-Williams

“The most important element that is very important to our players is that they want to become professional netball players, but not at the expense of rounded individuals who are ready to move on to life after their athletic careers

“Yes, they want to make money, but they don’t want to let go of the ability to study, gain work experience and develop life skills

“When you talk to a lot of athletes there are many problems when they leave the sports environment, which is very structured and within a bubble, and real life adjustment is extremely difficult

“Our players are very aware of this and probably educated because they have been through other sports So when you step away from our game, you want to be ready for the next phase “

With more revenue from a new broadcast deal, the elite players are sure to have more cash to spend

Some of the restrictions on third party sponsorship are expected to be relaxed to allow individual players to capitalize on their earning power However, there is general agreement that the salary cap must be maintained to keep competition the same

When the new broadcasting deals are finalized, the final say will go to Foxtel manager Amanda Laing, who is in the unique position of knowing what the first deal looked like and possibly determining what the next broadcasting deal will be. p>

“I had high hopes that this [2016 deal] would increase the profile and revenue of the game – ticket sales, sponsorship income, merchandise, and so on”she said

“I also wanted to make famous names to the players I saw as notable role models

“I’m delighted that coverage of the Super Netball competition, the sport in general, and the players has increased significantly over the years

“As you know, this also applies to women’s sport in general. There is of course more to be done, but it’s a start

“I firmly believe that advertising and media agencies as well as many brands have surprisingly slowly and unimaginatively recognized how strong a connection to women’s sport can be”

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World News – GB – Sports TV rights are no longer a game for men as Super Netball builds muscles