It’s the simplest of ideas but it always rings true. Put it on TV and watch it shine… or at least shine brighter than without it.
The Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) will be back on the air for its 2017/18 season following the announcement of a three-year deal between the league and broadcaster FOX Sports Australia. This is a momentous occasion for Bendigo, Dandenong and Melbourne and WNBL fans in general to rejoice – as your team and your league will return to television this season. After two seasons away, the league is back on the air.
That is not to discount the season just gone – which proved a captivating battle with its own storylines, plot-points and thrilling conclusions – but there is something grand about television.
While the league never stopped producing exceptional clashes and bringing high-calibre players to our shores, for those outside the basketball world the WNBL became an afterthought. And frankly, this isn’t a league that deserves to be overlooked.
— Boti Nagy (@boti_nagy) April 25, 2017
It’s a league that produces superb talent. To those who flourish in their early stages before heading off to college and abroad. The proving ground for those Australians who want to make the WNBA. A launching pad towards Opals duties and representing the country at under-19 and university level. The opportunities for players in this league are amazing but the wider community didn’t see that enough with the cameras switched off.
But one thing’s for sure – you can’t gloss over something on television. The bright lights will always guide viewers and the greatest community back. Therein lies the magic of a broadcast deal and it’s something the basketball community is rightly thrilled about.
The WNBL was trending on Twitter last night in Australia. That is a rare occurrence and proof positive of what a broadcast deal means to the bread-and-butter basketball fan and Australians across the sporting landscape.
To those people who can never have enough hoops on the box – this is a celebration. And for everyone who loved their club, adored the WNBL and wants to see more women in sports broadcasting – this is huge.
WNBL matches will be aired at least once per week on Fox Sports and Head of WNBL Sally Phillips said it was phenomenal to see the league return to a prime position on the broadcast media landscape.
“It’s a great day for the WNBL and we are thrilled to be entering into this partnership with Fox Sports,” Phillips said. “As someone who has been involved with the WNBL as a player and administrator over the past 27 years, this announcement is truly amazing.
“I love this game and I am so excited that our clubs and our athletes will be back in the spotlight receiving the recognition and respect they deserve.
“The WNBL is globally elite and a broadcast partnership provides us with a vital perception piece and communication platform for our sport that has been missing over the past two seasons. I’m so happy for our fans that have missed tuning in each week, we’re back!
“We are truly grateful for the huge leap of faith Fox Sports have taken in partnering with the WNBL for the next three years. The biggest names in Australian basketball are signing on to play in the upcoming season so fans will be exposed to what is recognised as some of the best women’s basketball in the world. There is no better time than now for Corporate Australia to capitalise on the support being shown for women’s sport and take a leap like Fox Sports have and get behind the WNBL.”
— Jenna O'Hea (@JennaOHea) April 26, 2017
Basketball Victoria CEO Nick Honey said the return to the airwaves will benefit everyone from the league and the network all the way through to young players watching their favourite stars on TV.
“It is a great result to see the WNBL return to television and the league’s deal with FOX Sports will allow Bendigo, Dandenong and Melbourne fans more opportunities to watch their teams,” Honey said. “For young basketball fans to switch on and see the likes of Jenna O’Hea, Kelsey Griffen and Sara Blicavs week-to-week is exciting and will help guide elite women’s basketball in our state into a stronger new era.
“We congratulate the WNBL, Fox Sports and Basketball Australia for creating this partnership to further promote Australia’s fantastic elite women’s basketball programs.”
Fox Sports CEO Patrick Delany said it was important for the organisation to have a stake in high-calibre women’s sport and the WNBL fit the bill perfectly.
“The WNBL is the longest running elite female competition in the country. It features incredible athletes, who are strong and fierce competitors. For too long the league has been invisible with no broadcast partner.
“Today’s announcement will ensure that fans around the country will be able to watch these athletes live in action.
“This isn’t just another broadcast deal; it’s a partnership. We are invested in making a difference, and putting women’s basketball in Australia back on the map.”
Heading towards the Commonwealth Games and qualifiers for Tokyo in the next couple of years, this is a great way to celebrate, highlight and marvel at our finest female athletes in a realm they built for themselves.
It’s the start of something bold and different – rebirth and renewal after a tough transition away from the ABC normality of recent history. Let’s get behind this partnership, click across to FOX Sports and keep the WNBL on the screen for many years to come.