England Netball have announced a new, multi-year broadcast deal with Sky Sports, that will see all Vitality Netball Superleague games broadcast across its channels.
The new deal will provide the sport with its greatest exposure yet, with Sky set to broadcast games across it Sky Sports Mix and Arena channels as well as showcasing the sport for free on YouTube. Every match will be available for streaming coverage, as announced by Sky, which will include highlights too.
It is hoped that the new deal will bring new audiences to the sport, alongside offering a continuous stream of Netball games to its current fanbase, which has seen a faster rate of growth in recent years.
“It is such a pleasure to be able to announce this new deal with Sky Sports,” said Fran Connolly, England Netball's CEO.
“Over recent years they have been able to capture huge moments in our sport and bring fans closer than ever to netball.” “We were delighted to bring elite netball back to the court during our recent Vitality Netball Legends Series, that saw the Vitality Roses play an international All Stars side, made up of talent from the Vitality Netball Superleague, and we cannot wait to continue that momentum and give our netball family something to look forward to.
“This partnership is a huge milestone for netball in this country and underlines the continued interest in our sport. The increased visibility this will bring will shine a light on the incredible role models in our game and help to inspire a nation of women and girls to take to the court. I am very much looking forward to our ongoing relationship with Sky Sports and hope to see more netball history made together in the coming years.”
The league is set to make its return on February 12, featuring 11 teams, including newcomers Leeds Rhinos. As part of its COVID-19 protocols, games will be held behind closed doors in just two venues to ensure strict adherence to its rules as well as a season-long testing programme for players and staff. The first nine weeks will be played at Studio 001 in Wakefield before heading to the Copper Box Arena in London for the remaining fixtures.
Steve Elworthy, Independent Chair at Vitality Netball Superleague, said: “As part of our partnership, Sky will broadcast more Vitality Netball Superleague games in 2021 than ever before, covering all 114 matches across the season in some format, helping to drive exposure of the league and directly benefiting our clubs and the wider netball community.
“Despite the league being played behind closed doors, the Sky partnership will enable us to not only increase visibility but also engage with new audiences – something we are all very excited about.
“Their coverage of the league is vital for the return of women’s sport in 2021 and the visibility of netball and marks a very important and groundbreaking moment for our game.”
Rob Webster, Managing Director of Sky Sports, added: “Sky Sports has been a long-term partner of netball since 2006. We are delighted to be expanding upon our existing deal to bring the thrill of the game to our audiences for years to come.
“Popularity for the sport has increased in recent years as viewing figures saw 550k people tune in to watch England’s Vitality Roses in 2019’s thrilling Netball World Cup semi-final. At Sky Sports we hope to improve on those pre-pandemic figures as we increase visibility for the sport across Sky Sports platforms.”
Author: Jake Wilkin