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Millions of dollars can’t be wrong: the queen bee of women’s sport

Captain’s call: NSW Swifts Abbey McCulloch and Giants Kimberlee Green. Photo: James BrickwoodThink women’s sport has exploded into the n mainstream this summer? Wait until you get a glimpse of Super Netball.

The new competition, already worth tens of millions of dollars, begins on Saturday when the Giants and Swifts square off in the first Sydney derby.

And while the AFL Women’s has burst onto the scene this month, and the Women’s Big Bash and W-League have both just wrapped up successful seasons, netball remains top of the pile when it comes to female sport in .

That’s why Channel Nine and Suncorp have forked out millions of dollars a season for the next five years in a unique sponsorship-broadcast deal.

That’s why Netball was able to part ways with its New Zealand counterpart last year, disband the cross-Tasman ANZ Championship and create three new outfits to flesh out a shiny revamped eight-team competition.

That’s why all four games in the opening round have sold out and that’s why Netball officials believe the financial growth in the sport of more than 50 per cent in the last 18 months is just the tip of iceberg.

“Everything that we’re doing around the launch of Suncorp Super Netball has innovation attached to it and the view is that this will continue to push the sport forward and make sure that we do hold that leading position in women’s sport,” Netball acting CEO Marne Fechner said.

“We can fund our own league, we have better terms and conditions for our players and we’ve got iconic n brands that are sitting behind us and amplifying what this sport is trying to do.”

The ANZ Championship folded last year after a split between Netball and Netball New Zealand.

Two of the New Zealand teams had become financially unsustainable and Netball ‘s proposal to cull the two clubs and turn the competition into an eight-league team was rejected across the Tasman.

Both parties opted to start their own domestic leagues, a bold plan to create Giants Netball, the Sunshine Coast Lightning and the Collingwood Magpies was undertaken and Suncorp Super Netball was born.

Channel Nine were immediately interested and teamed up with Netball in a unique partnership between national body and broadcaster before going to market to find a major sponsor.

Suncorp outbid ANZ and several others to land the rights, which are believed to have cost more than three times what ANZ was paying for the n component of last year’s competition.

Two games will be broadcast live in prime time on Gem each week, and the other two will be live on a Telstra streaming platform.

“This is unlike a lot of other women’s sports which are still having to overcome that perception that they’re a female version of a male sport, this has got all the ingredients to really pop,” Channel Nine managing director Amanda Laing said.

“Netball was very attractive and I think to have a female skewing audience in a live sports product, that’s quite unique. We all know who’s making the purchasing decisions in the household.”

Underpinning the new league are ever-robust participation numbers across the country which have increased 10 per cent in the last year alone.

The latest n Sports Commission Ausplay survey revealed almost one million participants across the country, including 332,018 at a junior level.

Netball was also the only sport in last year to be classified in the excelling category of the annual n Institute of Sport’s Sports Tally.

“They’re succeeding from a high-performance level, from a commercial level, from a governance perspective and also from a participation perspective, they’re a true sustainable sporting system that they’ve created,” said ASC chief executive and former Netball CEO Kate Palmer.

What they’ve created is the strongest netball league in the world.

‘s most-capped netballer Liz Ellis this week likened Super Netball to the English Premier League, given the international talent it had already attracted.

“There’s more international players than ever before, it’s going to be really exciting to see how they adapt,” Ellis said.

“We’ve got players from all over the world. It’s becoming like the English Premier League for netball, the best players in the world want to play here.

“That means that n sports fans are going to get the best athletes in the world right here.”

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