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Nine names Williams as new sports chief, outlines NRL plans

Australian free-to-air commercial broadcaster Nine has named Brent Williams as its new director of sport.

Williams, who has worked on Nine’s sports coverage for 25 years, replaces Tom Malone, who moved to a new role as managing director of radio earlier this month.

Malone had led Nine’s sports output for the past four years, overseeing the growth of the Wide World of Sports brand and its relationships with major sporting codes, including leading Nine’s switch from cricket to tennis in 2018.

Williams has served as Nine’s executive producer of the London 2012 summer Olympic Games and the Vancouver 2010 winter Games, as well as the head of cricket and tennis. He has also run Aussie rules football league programme the AFL Footy Show, the Sunday Footy Show and Footy Classified and was match producer of AFL when Nine held broadcast rights in the early 2000s.

Williams has outlined Nine’s vision for the NRL rugby league competition in 2020, promising an expanded and enhanced cross-platform presence for its television, radio, digital and publishing assets under the banner of ‘Your Footy, Your Way’.

Nine currently holds a five-year deal, from 2018 to 2022, for NRL rights and next year is planning to expand coverage across all platforms for rugby league, including deeper coverage of women’s league the NRLW. The contract is worth AUD185m (€111.9m/$124m) per season.

Williams said Nine’s plans to widen coverage of the  NRL Women’s competition followed the record audience figures this season. Nine will work closely with the code to continue to expand the NRLW in 2020 and beyond.

He remarked: “This year, the women’s premiership and State of Origin series delivered the highest audience of any women’s sporting code. In 2020, Nine will continue to support the women’s game as it goes from strength to strength, and as part of a broader women’s sport opportunity we are bringing it to market across all of Nine’s assets.”

Nine will also seek to continue to innovate in terms of camera coverage with new crossbar and corner post cams and is also working in conjunction with the NRL and the Rugby League Players Association on the introduction of player microphones.

He added: “In 2020, we will bring NRL fans closer to the action than ever before. With the aid of crossbar cam and corner post cam and the new player mics that we will be trialling in 2020, in partnership with NRL and NRL players association, we will give our viewers a new perspective on the game they love to follow.”