A new deal to bring the Women’s National Basketball League back to television has been hailed as a “landmark day in Bendigo sport” by the Bendigo Bank Spirit.
Under a new three-year deal struck on Tuesday, Fox Sports will broadcast at least one game live each week.
The broadcaster will also televise the best-of-three semi-final and grand final series.
The deal puts Australia’s longest-running elite female sports competition back on television for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
Bendigo Bank Spirit chairman Greg Bickley said Tuesday night’s announcement was an exciting day for Bendigo and for women’s basketball in Australia.”
“We have always enjoyed having elite athletes in our backyard, and we pride ourselves on being Bendigo’s only national sporting team,” he said.
“We want to showcase our city’s team and the city itself to the world and this new deal will allow us to do that. This is an exciting day for Bendigo and for women’s basketball in Australia.”
Bickley said the deal would give Spirit sponsors and business supporters access to a much wider audience.
“And it gives our fans more access no matter where we play,” he said.
“To have Fox Sports’ backing for the next three years is fantastic news and means fans can now watch and support us on TV.
“It’s great that not only will Fox Sports be a broadcast partner, they will be helping behind the scenes to build a strong and importantly sustainable competition.
“It’s an exciting time for women’s basketball and I can’t wait to be part of it.”
WNBL games had previously been televised on the ABC, but were scrapped at the end of the 2014-15 season due to budget cuts.
The new TV deal coincides with a new-look competition to run over 16 weeks, from October to January, including finals.
The January end of the season will be a month earlier than previous years and allow players extra time to seek contract opportunities overseas.
Fox Sports said it would continue to work with Basketball, Australia over the coming months to finalise the scheduling of the weekly broadcast.
Head of the WNBL Sally Phillips said it was a great day for the competition and women’s basketball.
“As someone who has been involved with the WNBL as a player and administrator over the past 27 years, this announcement is truly amazing,” she said.
“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.”