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Celebrating 15 years of coverage on Sky Sport

From the trans-Tasman ANZ Championship to the current ANZ Premiership, Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cups, Sky Sport has brought the very best of netball to New Zealand households for the last 15 years.

As we reach the halfway point of the 2021 ANZ Premiership, Netball New Zealand is celebrating 15 years of partnership with Sky Sport.

Broadcasting all domestic and international games, as well as selected games in the National Netball League and creating a new netball podcast, Sky continues to be a highly valued supporter of netball in New Zealand.

The partnership with Sky goes beyond purely broadcasting, with Netball New Zealand Chief Executive Jennie Wyllie complimenting how Sky has given a bigger voice to the sport over the last 15 years.

“While it’s a commercial relationship, it’s actually deeper than that, it’s one built on that mutual partnership of amplifying and highlighting our sport which we’ve really valued over the years.”

A key aspect of Sky’s coverage of netball is the commentary, with experts and ex-players alike manning the mic and giving valuable additional insight for viewers.

Jenny Woods has been an essential part of the Sky Sport commentary team since 2007, lending her voice for some of the most legendary games in New Zealand netball history.

Working alongside another person pivotal to getting more netball on our screens, Andrea McVeigh, Woods had a “pinch me I’m dreaming” moment when she first started commentating.

“She [McVeigh] was sort of casting around for people that she knew who had a voice and knew netball and so my name came up and so she just rang one day and said do you want to audition?”

Initially preparing for the inaugural ANZ Championship, Woods was thrust into the deep end when the relocation of the 2007 Netball World Cup from Fiji to New Zealand gifted Woods her first outing, and her expertise and professionalism have been a constant in the Sky team ever since.

With names like Adine Wilson, Anna Stanley, Storm Purvis, Maree Bowden and Wendy Frew appearing as experts on the ANZ Premiership commentary team, Sky brings the best netball brains to our screens weekly.

Woods described the opportunity to work with the expertise of such people as fantastic, saying “they’re great characters and each and every one of them, we’re all very good friends...it’s a very collegial team.”

As well as providing deeper knowledge to viewers by giving players and coaches a turn on commentary, Sky is also providing a further career option for the women whose days on court have come to an end.

The opportunities that Sky provides for past players and coaches is a prime example of how Sky’s support goes above and beyond, and is something Wyllie is immensely grateful for.

“Seeing those players and coaches out there, with a career after the game has been vital. They bring some real credibility to the Sky commentary and really adds a lot of value to our game as well, because it’s really important for us to be able to keep our people in the game in many ways and to have them involved with Sky has been invaluable.”

As for a highlight of the last 15 years, both Wyllie and Woods list the Silver Ferns winning the 2019 Netball World Cup.

Woods initially was not asked to commentate the final, as the host nation of England were quietly confident that their side would be making the final over the Ferns. After being asked the morning of, Woods had to deal with the nerves of the 52-51 win.

“It was just fantastic and it was a terrific game and by the end of it, I think I actually was physically shaking.”

Wyllie had a similarly physical reaction, apologising to the person sitting next to her for the occasional punch on the arm out of nerves.

Another triumphant moment that Sky delivered to New Zealand households was the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games double extra time thriller, where the Silver Ferns held on for 84 minutes to take the gold medal.

Commentating in a small booth next to the Indian broadcasting duo, Woods recalled the Indian crowds cheering for New Zealand over their cricketing rivals Australia.

“We were all on our feet, we’d gone into the second lot of extra time...the female commentator was actually wrapped around my middle, like she was hugging me because we were standing and it was just incredible.”

One of the advantages of having a dedicated sports broadcaster is the increase in coverage - Sky Sport even broadcasting a handful of National Netball League games this year, the competition below the ANZ Premiership.

Woods has seen a clear change in engagement since the partnership began, largely thanks to the commitment of a dedicated channel.

“I think it’s become a lot more professional, I think people talk about it a lot more...because they’re replayed very much more and I think that’s one of the real advantages...the games can be repeated and replayed at various times of the day and night and I think that’s a real plus.”

Looking ahead to the next major events on the Netball New Zealand calendar - the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2023 Netball World Cup - Wyllie says that the build up with Sky has already begun.

“Sky will be involved with us as we keep heading towards that pinnacle event in Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and we’ve already had a Constellation Cup this year where the Silver Ferns have had great success and the New Zealand public absolutely loved having them out there and lifting that cup for the first time since 2012.

“Sky are right in beside us the whole way as we plan our pathway to these pinnacle events.”