Credit: Suncorp Super Netball website.

Suncorp Super Netball will return on May 1, however, netball die-hards call for improved timeslots in 2021.

The direct clash between local league match times and television broadcasts remains the main concern for die-hard fans tuning in to the sport they love.

Suncorp Super Netball announced today that the competition would return to screens on May 1, however, a draw is not set to be announced until later next month.

Netball Australia revealed a sharp increase in viewership at the end of the 2020 season, however, some players suggest that is because a number of grassroots competitions could not run.

Point Cook Centrals’ Kelly Van Bloomerstein said the significant clash between local match times and televised matches may be stunting the code’s growth.

“It’s very hard to get down and see live games, a lot of the times they (the games) were played on Saturday so it wasn’t ideal,” she said to The Inner Sanctum.

“In COVID times, however, we lived to watch, and it was great because we could watch a lot of the teams [we normally wouldn’t see] and it was probably televised a lot better than it had been. But that’s due to our competitions not running in Victoria.

“So it’s not ideal because, the junior girls look up to these ladies, and we like to support them, so I think they should get a lot more coverage than they get now.”

A recent netball-focused survey conducted by The Inner Sanctum has revealed fans are still struggling to view the sport outside of prime time.

Grass-roots and amateur netball competitions are played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons which competes directly with the television product.

As the sport continues to develop, respondents to The Inner Sanctum’s survey believe it is critical that the most passionate fans of the sport are engaged with the professional product.

“Matches [need to be] scheduled when fans can actually watch them – i.e. not Saturday afternoons when we are playing netball ourselves,” one person said in their response.

Netball in Australia saw significant audience growth last year. Growth which surpassed all other sports in Australia, including AFL and NRL.

Of the people surveyed, 70.7 per cent of respondents have followed netball for eight years or more while 63.1 per cent of respondents watch every game they can possibly watch.

As part of the survey, fans were asked about advertising and one fan suggested that improved advertising would be an important step forward.

“Advertising for SSN games. Great we can get some on TV, but useless if the public, in general, don’t know on AND when advertised at little girls, NOT adults as it should be,” they said.

While Netball Australia is yet to announce its next broadcast rights deal, fans were overjoyed with the announcement of the competition’s return in 2021.

It is anticipated the season will run for 14 weeks with three rounds of finals. From May 1 until the expected grand final date in August, Netball Australia have allocated 18 weeks.

It remains to be seen if this is due to bye rounds or if the league is taking precautions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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