Nine to focus on delivering ‘richer’ and ‘more accessible’ season of netball

Nine will focus on making netball more accessible and delivering a richer experience as it prepares for the new season of Suncorp’s Super Netball.

The broadcaster, which won the rights to the Netball Australia’s matches in 2016, will broadcast the second season of Suncorp Super Netball from this Saturday, at 3pm on Nine.

This season will see more two live games a week broadcast on Nine’s main channel and 9Now, along with two being shown on Telstra TV.

Tom Malone, director of sport at Nine told Mumbrella the biggest learning from last year was about making the game “even more accessible”.

Malone said this year was about making netball more accessible

“We took it last year from being a largely paid television product and put it on free to air and put it in prime time on a Saturday night on Gem,” he said.

“Our biggest learning was we can do netball a better service by not doing back to back games. By putting one on a Saturday and one on a Sunday and then putting them on the main channel, just by nature of putting them on the main channel, we get a greater exposure to a casual audience.

“Because of our unique relationship with Netball Australia we were able to make those decisions really quickly and identify 3pm Saturday at 1pm Sunday on the main channel as two really good broadcast slots for Netball, and also shift the season from post Comm Games, start late April and run through the winter months when the participation base is playing netball. So hopefully we can drive that greater link between participation and the elite as well”.

It comes off the back off some of netball’s biggest audiences last year, up 40% on the year before.

Keeley Devery, Nine’s head of netball, said while she had “similar” expectations for the new season, she was pleasantly surprised by some of last year’s results.

Devery: Women’s sport is becoming the ‘norm’

“Every country town, every regional area as a netball club or association, it is played far and wide. It’s not just restricted to our eastern states, not just played in selected states, it is far reaching and we were probably pleasantly surprised,” she said.

It’s been so good that there is so much women’s sport around now and it’s becoming the norm, which is great. My daughter growing up is used to seeing girls play sport on TV but I think with the other codes, it’s women’s playing a men’s sport. That to me is the pure beauty of this. It’s a women’s sport and they are the best at it.”

Malone added: “It did make us sit up a bit and go – you realise the power of netball is through the participation base. When you see those numbers coming out of regional and rural and coastal Australia, you think ‘wow’.”

Last year, 4.73m Australians tuned into the series, with a national average audience of 447,000 watching the Grand Final clash between the Western Sydney Giants and Sunshine Coast Lightning. That finals results was an 81% increase on Ten’s coverage of the ANZ Championships the year prior.

9Now also secured 71,000 live streams of the grand final and 82,000 across the series.

For advertisers, the move to the main channel will hopefully mean “greater value in marketing”, according to Malone.

“But the unique way we commercialise is we don’t just sell broadcast, we sell it as a combined sponsorship and broadcast proposition,” he added.

This season of Suncorp Super Netball will launch this Saturday | Source: Matt King

“We are going to market to Suncorp and Samsung and Nissan and we are selling them shirt sponsorship, in venue signage place integration on the broadcast plus traditional TVCs. That was one of the exciting things about when we set this up with Netball Australia. We were going to market together – Netball and Nine – selling sponsorship and broadcast.”

But the end game isn’t necessarily more matches on free to air, with Malone pointing to the current rights agreement, which will run until 2022.

“Obviously Telstra are our co-partner in the rights, so they hold the rights for two games a week and so do we. In terms of evolving to more games on free to air, that’s certainly something we’d be interested in but that would involve going back to drawing board and talking about how we construct the rights with Netball and with Telstra.”

However he is pleased the arrangements with Netball Australia include digital rights, something which Malone has pushed over the last few months.

“We look at Netball as premium sports content,” he said.

“We have the best athletes in the world in the best league in the world, playing netball on Nine. That’s content and we need the ability to commercialise that content no matter where people are viewing be it on traditional linear free to air, digitally through 9Now or Telstra TV, or be it in short form clips and highlights.”


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