Ex­po­sure for WNBL with pay TV deal

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUX­WORTH

ALL eight WNBL teams will play a “clus­ter” round in Mel­bourne in the up­com­ing sea­son as the league pre­pares to re­turn to tele­vi­sion af­ter a two- year ab­sence.

With each team to play 21 games this year, the round, ex­pected to be pen­cilled in for mid- sea­son, means ev­ery team will be al­lo­cated 10 home games and 10 away trips, with the Mel­bourne quadru­ple header deemed a “neu­tral” round.

The round was ini­tially planned for sea­son tip- off in early Oc­to­ber, but it is un­der­stood a sched­ul­ing clash with the Bathurst 1000 prompted a re­think.

Townsville Fire have been al­lo­cated a New Year's Eve game for the sec­ond straight year, a fix­ture the now- de­funct NBL fran­chise Townsville Croc­o­diles pre­vi­ously em­braced as their own.

It is also un­der­stood the Fire are con­sid­er­ing not re­turn­ing home dur­ing a win­dow of con­sec­u­tive road trips in­cluded in the draw, ex­pected to be re­leased to­mor­row.

Fox Sports will broad­cast games live this year which should breath new life into the league, in­vis­i­ble since long- time broad­caster ABC axed its cov­er­age two years ago.

The pay TV deal was vi­tal for the league to com­pete for tal­ent and fans in an ev­er­grow­ing fe­male sport mar­ket­place where net­ball, cricket, soc­cer and the fledg­ling AFL Women’s all have lu­cra­tive broad­cast ar­range­ments.

“It’s fan­tas­tic for our prod­uct to be back on screen, it’s too good for peo­ple not to see what we’re all about,” Fire player Mia Mur­ray said.

“It’s such a great game and par­tic­i­pa­tion lev­els at ju­nior lev­els are mas­sive, that’s what peo­ple need to re­alise.”

Hawks guard Mitch Nor­ton.

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