Fox Sports unveiled its 2017 NRL plans last night at a gala event at Sydney’s Birchgrove Oval – home of the first ever league game in Australia.
This year’s coverage will include every game of every round, plus every final in September live, ad-break free during play and in HD all on a dedicated 24/7 Rugby League channel, ‘FOX LEAGUE’.
Switching on February 20, channel FOX SPORTS 502 will become FOX LEAGUE with all the shows firing up from February 27 before Round 1 kicks off on March 2. FOX LEAGUE will give fans what they have been asking for – every game, every round live, guided by the best commentary team in the business, on their very own channel that never switches off.
Joining the FOX family in 2017 is the highly sought-after sports presenter, Yvonne Sampson, who will lead a new era for Rugby League coverage alongside one of Australia’s brightest broadcasters, Matty Johns.
Other new faces joining the network, as it gears up for its biggest and best year ever, is recently retired Broncos great, Justin Hodges, former half-back star, Brett Finch and popular sports presenter Hannah Hollis. Fans will see more of Corey Parker and Mick Ennis plus hear from new match-day caller, Brenton Speed.
Sharing play-by-play commentary duties with Speed is Warren Smith and Andrew Voss.
Hodges, Parker and Sampson join Mal Meninga, Kevin Walters, Ben Ikin and Gorden Tallis to lead the Queensland contingent of FOX SPORTS.
In 2017, fans will hear from more of the most respected female sports presenters in the country with Sampson joined by Hollis, Lara Pitt, Megan Barnard, Tara Rushton and Jess Yates to feature prominently across the week’s programming.
The LIVE on-field action starts earlier in the week this season, with the new Thursday night match hosted by Sampson, Johns and a panel of experts weekly from 7.00pm EDT.
Then it’s a Friday double-header, with the new 6pm match only on FOX LEAGUE, before a massive Super Saturday EXCLUSIVE triple-header. FOX LEAGUE will be the only place to watch both Sunday matches LIVE, wrapping up the weekend’s action.
Across the week, six new magazine shows will keep fans entertained, informed and across all Rugby League’s big issues. There will be something for everyone – more fun and more debate, bringing fans even closer to the game they love.
New to the FOX LEAGUE Lab is the Whizz-kid, whose razor sharp brain and home-made algorithms correctly predicted 80 per cent of last season’s results. New additions to FOX SPORTS’ in-broadcast Augmented Reality, will see a new virtual tackle marker, keeping track of the tackle-count as well as showing subscribers exactly where it took place. And shedding new light on what was a recurring point of contention last year, a new virtual 10-metre line will make it clearer for fans to know when refs are getting it right.
FOX SPORTS CEO, Patrick Delany, said: “This is a game changing day for NRL. We’ve listened to fans and responded to their desire to see their game celebrated and enshrined in a place all of its own. That new place is FOX LEAGUE. We are going to make what is already awesome, more awesome!
“We will share our love of the game with fans around the country delivering the best coverage to more fans, in more ways than ever before.
“Your game, your team and now your channel. We will have double, triple, double live coverage from Friday to Sunday, plus the best Thursday night line-up kicking off the round’s action.
“With all the live broadcasts, all the shows – we will do what no one else can. It’s a massive investment for us but we are committed to making our coverage of the game even more awesome for the fans.”
FOX SPORTS head of television, Steve Crawley, said: “FOX LEAGUE will put Rugby League onto the world stage of sports broadcasting. It will be like no other and like nothing Australian sports fans have ever experienced.
“We have an army of producers charging the channel and we have assembled the biggest, and best, line-up of talent possible. This channel has it all and we can’t wait for fans to experience it.”