Nine’s senior sports leadership is projecting significant audience growth in preparation for the launch of its second season of Suncorp Super Netball.
This Saturday, for the first time, Nine will shift the game to its primary channel, a move which Nine’s Director of Sport, Tom Malone, predicts will lead to year-on-year, double-digit growth.
“I think what we are going to see in terms of audience this year is only further growth,” said Malone, referencing the strong audiences achieved last season. “Hopefully again in the double digits, because this year netball will be airing in the winter months, which aligns more with when the Netball season in the community.
In 2017, Netball was broadcast for the first time on Nine in a revenue-sharing partnership whereby the media company in effect became the game’s marketing partner, selling sponsorships across everything from TV to digital to in-stadium signage. More
“I think the beauty of netball and Nine is that it is a true partnership,” said Keeley Devery, Nine’s Head of Netball. “We are all working together on how we can move the sport forward.”
Devery noted that the first year of Netball on Nine had seen strong audiences, with more than four million Australians tuning in, and real strength in audiences in regional areas. More
“Netball is played everywhere, and the high audience numbers in regional areas last year were a pleasant surprise,” she said. “I think it’s partially because it has a strong foothold in country towns and regional areas – every major country town has a netball club.
“The most exciting thing about Netball on Nine in 2018 is moving to the primary channel. What that is going to do for the sport and its reach is just going to be awesome.
“With games at 3.00 pm every Saturday and 1.00pm every Sunday I don’t think we can underestimate what that is going to do for the sport.”
Malone agrees, arguing that Netball’s size as a participation sport is what gives it such strength.
“We didn’t anticipate was just how big Netball was going to be in regional and rural Australia,” he said. “The figures were staggering and the feedback we got in rural and coastal areas was huge, because Netball is the number one participation sport for women and girls.
“Now they are getting their chance to see their heroes live and free on Nine and that connection between the grassroots and the elite versions of the game now has been completely formed.”
For marketers, Malone says netball offers some distinct advantages.
“There is a huge interest in netball from marketers for good reason. You don’t get better athletes in Australia than these intelligent, articulate, incredible fit players playing in the best league in the world.
“Netball is a female-led sport and Australia draws on the best players in the world, which had an impact when Australia beat England in the Commonwealth Games.
“Suncorp Super Netball is an incredible league with incredible players and it is targeting a demographic that is hard for marketers to reach, women aged 16 to 35 who participate in netball right around the country every week. Netball offers the chance to reach this audience in a brand-safe, premium environment of sport.”
Devery agrees, noting the strong role models that Netball players offer children and teenagers.
“Seeing women playing sport on TV is well overdue,” she said. “As a mother I am so pleased my daughter can now watch her heroes on the sporting field.
“The great thing about the Suncorp Super Netball is that it’s the best netball league in the world.”