England Netball has announced a significant new multi-year broadcast deal with Sky Sports UK - the partnership will see every match of the Vitality Netball Superleague 2021 season broadcast across Sky Sports channels
Each Superleague game will be available live in some format across YouTube or Sky Sports Mix/ Arena - offering the competition its greatest exposure to date.
The Vitality Netball Superleague is due to return on February 12, featuring 11 teams, with the addition of newcomers Leeds Rhinos.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic the decision was made to host the Vitality Netball Superleague behind closed doors across two venues this season, to enable strict and consistent COVID-19 protocols to be in place for all games, supported by an extensive season-long testing programme across the league.
The season is scheduled to get underway at Studio 001 in Wakefield for the first nine weeks and move to the Copper Box Arena in London for the remaining fixtures.
An England Netball release adds: "As part of the groundbreaking partnership, every match of the 2021 season will be covered by Sky Sports through a combination of live TV and streaming coverage as well as highlights, ensuring fans don’t miss a game whilst helping to drive new audiences for the sport, building on the momentum around audience growth seen in recent years."
Fran Connolly, chief executive of England Netball, said: "It is such a pleasure to be able to announce this new deal with Sky Sports.
"Over recent years they have been able to capture huge moments in our sport and bring fans closer than ever to netball.
"We were delighted to bring elite netball back to the court during our recent Vitality Netball Legends Series, that saw the Vitality Roses play an international All Stars side, made up of talent from the Vitality Netball Superleague, and we cannot wait to continue that momentum and give our Netball Family something to look forward to."
"This partnership is a huge milestone for netball in this country and underlines the continued interest in our sport.
"The increased visibility this will bring will shine a light on the incredible role models in our game and help to inspire a nation of women and girls to take to the court.
"I am very much looking forward to our ongoing relationship with Sky Sports and hope to see more netball history made together in the coming years.d
Steve Elworthy, independent chair of the Vitality Netball Superleague, said: "As part of our partnership, Sky will broadcast more Vitality Netball Superleague games in 2021 than ever before, covering all 114 matches across the season in some format, helping to drive exposure of the league and directly benefiting our clubs and the wider netball community.
"Despite the league being played behind closed doors, the Sky partnership will enable us to not only increase visibility but also engage with new audiences – something we are all very excited about.
"Their coverage of the league is vital for the return of women’s sport in 2021 and the visibility of netball and marks a very important and groundbreaking moment for our game."
Rob Webster, Sky Sports managing director, added: “Sky Sports has been a long-term partner of netball since 2006. We are delighted to be expanding upon our existing deal to bring the thrill of the game to our audiences for years to come.
"Popularity for the sport has increased in recent years as viewing figures saw 550k people tune in to watch England’s Vitality Roses in 2019’s thrilling Netball World Cup semi-final."