As they kicked off a multi-year partnership in 2021 with the NRL, Sky committed to new ways of nurturing and growing Rugby League alongside the famed Australian organisation and New Zealand Rugby League.
As part of the partnership, Sky has focused on developing content to elevate Rugby League and to connect the game with younger and more diverse audiences in Aotearoa. In conjunction with Kava Bowl Media (creators of Pacific Brothers + Sisters), Sky commissioned and launched a new League show The Ditch, which has proven very popular with the audience the team set out to reach.
And, The Ditch is going global, with Fox Sports Australia – home of the NRL – and often lauded for their League content. Fox Sports is adding The Ditch to their already impressive line-up of magazine shows and unrivalled coverage of matches.
Producer John Tapu says: “The Ditch champions the huge contribution of Māori and Pasifika players make to rugby league on both sides of the Tasman. It’s time we told our stories our way – it’s not about us, without us! This fresh new series is not for delivering loads of analysis, instead we tell authentic Māori and Pasifika stories, capturing the athlete’s relationship with their culture, their community, and families on and off the field… and of course there’s plenty of room for a laugh along the way.
“We are so stoked Fox Sports Australia is picking up the show for their Aussie viewers, which will also be streamed on Foxtel GO, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. To be honest, while we’re super happy with the results we are already achieving in Aotearoa, this is a real plus for my team, and the Sky crew. On top of this, The Ditch will air throughout the Pacific (Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea) on the Digicel Network and globally on Watch NRL platforms.”
The Ditch is co-hosted by League nut and former The Crowd Goes Wild reporter Chris Key, and Pacific Community Sport journalist and ex Ōtāhuhu Leopards player Savannah Tafau-Levy.
Jonny Errington, Sky’s Chief Content and Commercial Officer says: “Chris, Savannah and John bring real insight and energy to this fantastic show, along with a rich list of guests including Jordan Kahu, Russell Packer, Adam Blair, Sam Lisone, Annetta Nu’uausala and Katelyn Vahaakolo.
“Together they’re telling an important story about the positive impact League has in Māori and Pasifika communities, after all 45 percent of players in the NRL are of Pasifika origin. In turn, Sky can show our gratitude for the massive contribution made to the game. We also love how the best bits of Pacific Brothers and Sisters from 2021 have carried through into The Ditch, in particular the coverage of women’s league, which fits so well with our #SeeThePossible strategy to elevate women in sport.”
With a 12-episode run The Ditch premiered late May on Sky Sport 1 (Weds, 8pm) and Prime (Fri, 7pm) and is performing strongly across the board.