WNBL returns to national television in three-year Fox Sports deal

It's been three years, but the league will return to national television in the coming 2017/18 season, thanks to a new broadcasting partnership with Fox Sports.

According to Fox Sports, a three-year agreement has been reached with Basketball Australia. This partnership will allow for a minimum of one season game per week, plus every Finals game to be broadcast live on Fox Sports until the WNBL's 2019/20 season.

“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," Fox Sports CEO Patrick Delany said.

"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."

The upcoming partnership between Fox Sports and Basketball Australia include developing a strategy around sustainability and visibility of the Women's National Basketball League, around aspects like commercial, marketing and community support.

“We are truly grateful for the huge leap of faith Fox Sports have taken in partnering with the WNBL for the next three years," WNBL head, Sally Phillips said.

"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.”

The WNBL's broadcast history

The WNBL's broadcasting rights were originally owned by ABC since the league's inaugural season in 1981. ABC's coverage however, ended after the WNBL's 2014/15 season, marking the end of a 35-year long partnership.

The cessation of the WNBL's broacast was deemed a nightmare by Australian basketball legend Lauren Jackson back then.

"It's a nightmare. It's the one thing that can put us out there, the ABC has us on national television every Saturday," Jackson said, back in 2014. "If we don't get on TV once a week people aren't seeing how good we are, we [Opals] are the second-best team in the world but they'll only see us at the Olympics.

"Basketball Australia has a lot of work to do. They're going to have to find a way to get us back out there and on television, and make sure we're getting that funding."

Almost three years later, following seasons in which the league broadcast its Grand Finals online via YouTube in 2015/16, and then on Facebook Live in the recent 2016/17 Grand Finals, the WNBL is finally making its return back to national television.