The sudden departure of Cameron Williams from the Nine Network today has sparked speculation the TV host is about to sign a lucrative new contract with Fox Sports.
Williams departure from Nine comes just a week after Nine’s Head of Sport, Steve Crawley confirmed he was moving to Fox Sport to lead its live sports coverage.
While Fox Sports refused to confirm or deny their interest in Williams, this website understands he will soon sign a contract with the pay-tv broadcaster that will see him become the face of its NRL coverage. A role that will see him host Thursday and Friday night football.
Williams contract with Nine had expired meaning he is available to start work at a new employer straight away.
Confirming his departure from Nine today, Cameron Williams stated,
“It’s tough to leave a really challenging and rewarding job, I have no hard feelings toward Nine at all. Far from it. They entrusted me with anchoring some of their most important events. You know you’re alive when you are front and centre of something like State of Origin, or on NRL Grand Final. The last few years I have hosted the most-watched events on Australian TV and that’s quite an honour.”
After recently regaining broadcast rights for the NRL until 2022, Fox Sports is now dramatically ramping up its coverage of the code ahead of the launch of a new channel FOX NRL in 2017.
Under the new deal Nine and Fox Sports will simulcast the Thursday and main Friday night game, as well as the Sunday evening match. Fox Sports will show Nine’s broadcast of these matches commercial free and will use its own commentary team. A decision that surprised many at Nine.
Fox Sports will have exclusive rights for the remaining five matches of the round, including Saturday night football, however Nine will be able to simulcast the last five Saturday night games of each season. Fox Sports will also have exclusive rights for a limited number of early Friday night games per season.
Fox Sports coverage will also include a line-up of NRL panel programs including NRL360, which will air 3 nights per week. Sterlo with Peter Sterling, and the Matty Johns Show, which will air Mondays and Fridays.
Nervous about the increased competition from Fox Sports, Nine is yet to confirm if The Footy Show will move into a Wednesday 8:30pm time slot or air immediately after the Thursday NRL game.
Confirming Williams departure today, Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs Darren Wick stated,
“Cameron has been one of the most professional journalists I’ve had the privilege of working with. He has made an outstanding contribution to all programs at Nine News and Current Affairs. He will be missed not just for his ability as a television presenter, but also for his quality as a person. We sincerely wish him all the best for the future”.
Cameron Williams was part of the original hosting line-up when Fox Sports launched in 1995. He departed the channel in 2001 after make-up artist Samantha Clifford brought indecent assault charges against him. Those charges were later dropped.