WNBL racing against clock to find new TV deal in time for October tip-off

Players such as Lauren Jackson are great role models, says Basketball Australia. Photo: Matt Bedford Basketball Australia boss Anthony Moore has described the inequity between male and female sport coverage as “diabolical”, admitting “a lot’s got to go right” to secure a new television broadcast partner for the upcoming Women’s National Basketball League season.
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After the ABC axed its WNBL coverage after 35 years, Basketball Australia is looking to emulate Netball Australia’s Channel Ten deal where they broadcast ANZ Championship matches in return for a payment derived from sponsors.

Basketball Australia needs to find $2 million to pay for production costs and air time, and have enlisted the Australian Sports Commission and Repucom to build a business proposal to attract advertisers.

Moore conceded there’s no guarantee the league will strike a deal in time for the season, which tips off in October.

He described it as “galling” to see the massive TV deals recently struck by the AFL and NRL, when the WNBL only requires a fraction of that money.

“The AFL has a $2.5 billion deal. If we had $2.5 million we’d be on TV,” Moore said.

“Instead of someone paying that to us, we have to source it. The inequity there is diabolical and it’s certainly something we’re seeking to change.

“Our numbers stack up and our athletes are tremendous role models. We need to put the spotlight on them so people can see how good they are.

“I’ve got an eight-year-old daughter who loves watching the WNBL and Australian Opals and she’s wondering why she can’t watch it on TV, yet she can watch the boys.

“Elizabeth Broderick [Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner] has a great line – ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’.

“Netball’s ANZ Championships still has to pay for production and the Diamonds have just won a world championship.

“We [Opals] have just qualified for Rio [Olympics], yet we’ll have to pay for production.”

Basketball Australia hopes it can convince a broadcaster to show one live game a week plus the finals series, similar to the long-running ABC arrangement.

They also want to establish live streaming of non televised games, and some potential suitors have shown interest.

Asked if he was confident a new broadcaster would agree to terms Moore said: “A lot’s got to go right.

“We’ve spoken to all three free-to-air broadcasters, we’ve got this business proposal coming and working on building the advertising revenue to support the production.

“We not asking people to take a chance because we know the numbers stack up.

“We’re trying to break the cycle where broadcasters say it doesn’t rate so we don’t show it. Our proposition is because you don’t show it, it doesn’t rate.”

“We think the WNBL will reach the consumers these brands are interested in targeting.

“We need to make the production a bit sharper for commercial TV, and take advantage of the success of women’s national teams at the moment.”

Canberra Capitals coach Carrie Graf said the club is keen to pursue the prospect of live streaming home games themselves.

“One thing we’re keen to do is to stream our games online, it’s high on our list of priorities,” she said.

“We just need some people in key positions to see the value of putting women’s sport on television, to produce it the right way and see what happens.

“It might take time but someone’s got to have the courage to do it.

“There’s great stories involving people with profile, just like there is in the AFL and NRL.”