Netball: New Zealand reportedly considers return to trans-Tasman format after reduced Sky Sport broadcast offer

Sulu Fitzpatrick and Peta Toeava celebrate their ANZ Premiership triumph.
Sulu Fitzpatrick and Peta Toeava celebrate their ANZ Premiership triumph. Photo credit: Photosport

Netball NZ faces far-reaching repercussions of a the next Sky Sport deal that will reportedly halve broadcast revenue for the game.

The changes may see up to three Kiwi franchises entered in the Australian Super Netball League, effectively ending the ANZ Premiership.

RNZ reports Sky have offered just $4 million for broadcast rights - half its current payment - which would force player payment cuts and threaten the viability of the national competition.

Netball NZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie has told Checkpoint that no deal has been signed, but RNZ understands the agreement has been reached.

"We're not going to be discussing our commercial arrangements at this time, but do know we are in really positive conversations with partners and keeping our players across all of the moving parts," said Wyllie. 

"We haven't announced what we are doing at the conclusion of this broadcast deal."

A return to trans-Tasman competition would potentially achieve several key commercial and high performance objectives, including a more attractive TV product and a increased standard of play for Silver Ferns candidates. 

The move would also allow Kiwi women to play for Australian franchises, which fits calls from Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua to relax rules around exposing her players to tougher competition.

"We need four world-class athletes, and the only way that we can do it with the current experience or inexperience that we have is by either getting more games against clubs, or finding another way or opportunity for them to compete in other competitions," she told RNZ, after her reappointment last week.    

"That's definitely an area that I talked to them about - the good thing is they're thinking about that themselves, so we're both on the same page."  

ANZ Premiership coaches have long recognised the shortcomings in their domestic competition, which has stayed loyal to traditional netball rules, while the Aussies have embraced modified format, including two-point goals and bonus quarters, designed to attract fans.

Since the two netball superpowers parted company in 2017, their national teams have taken opposite trajectories, with Australia capturing 2022 Commonwealth Games gold and the 2023 World Cup crown.

New Zealand managed bronze at Birmingham, after missing out altogether four years earlier at Gold Coast, but fell to fourth - the defending champions' worst-ever finish - at the World Cup.