Women’s basketball continues rise with Sky Sports coverage  

The partnership between Sky Sports and basketball continues to flourish with news the nation’s top women’s competition will have one game each week televised in season 2020.

Set for tip-off next May, the New Zealand women’s league is currently undergoing a re-brand and will be backed by live coverage every Wednesday night on Sky Sports.

Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) has also announced the introduction of a Women’s Basketball Board to oversee the future direction of the league, along with a new management structure to be headed by Sal’s NBL General Manager, Justin Nelson.

Board members include former Tall Fern Donna Wilkins, BBNZ Board member Sally Farmer, Harbour Basketball Chief Executive John Hunt and marketing expert Brett Goebel.

BBNZ Chief Executive Iain Potter says this is a big step for the women’s game.

“This is an exciting time for women’s basketball, its growth across all levels in New Zealand and the future direction for the sport as we continue to experience an extraordinary rise in participation numbers. We are also delighted by the continued support from SKY Sports and their very eager approach to supporting women’s basketball in New Zealand,” says Potter.

“Justin (Nelson) has already delivered some exciting things across the Sal’s NBL and we have moved quickly to add the women’s league to his role and surround him with a number of very good people, including a new board for our elite women’s league. It’s another progressive step and we are very much looking forward to providing girls and women with more opportunities to excel.”

Teams expected to compete in the 2020 national league season include Canterbury Wildcats, Otago Gold Rush, Harbour Breeze, Auckland Dream, Capital Swish and Waikato Wizards. 

A new development league is also being looked at to better support the top level and provide a stronger pathway for New Zealand’s quickly growing base of elite level players coming out of the junior ranks.

“Streamlining our management across our elite leagues is smart business, but more importantly it ensures we are all throwing our weight behind both men’s and women’s basketball, and that’s a really exciting move for New Zealand’s fastest-growing sport,” said Nelson.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but the foundations we have built during the recent Sal’s NBL season will help us quickly establish many successful key platforms for our women’s league as well.

“Women’s basketball in New Zealand is a fantastic product. The SKY Sports Tall Ferns are well positioned globally, more and more young girls are taking up the game at grassroots level through the Girls Got Game initiative, secondary school numbers are on the rise, we’ve more players featuring in NCAA Division I teams in the US, and our elite league is vital in that overall player pathway,” Nelson added.

To add to this momentum shift, elite international women’s basketball will be on display in New Zealand for the first time in four years when the SKY Sports Tall Ferns play Korea, Philippines and China this November in Auckland.

These are big games with each team fighting for a spot at the Olympics. 

A big push is now on to attract a sponsor for the women’s league with Mr Nelson signalling an expected rise in coverage on SKY Sports as an important piece of the puzzle.

“SKY televised the women’s finals earlier this year and it was exciting viewing, so we want to expand on that and take some key commercial partners on the journey with us,” said Nelson.

“There is so much support for women’s sport at SKY, we are really enjoying working together and can’t wait to see even more basketball on television in 2020.”