The Nine Networks Head of Sport Steve Crawley has confirmed he will depart the Network at the end of March to take up a new role at Fox Sports.
Crawley will become the pay-tv channels Head of Live Sport, while the existing Head of Sport Gary Burns, whom has been with the company for four years, will take on the new position of Head of Sports Entertainment Shows.
The move has sparked a series of changes at Nine with 60 Minutes executive producer Tom Malone moving into the head sports role, while Kirsty Thompson will takeover leadership of 60 Minutes.
Crawley joins Fox Sports at a time when the company is investing heavily in the launch of a dedicated rugby league channel FOX NRL in 2017. Fox Sports is hoping the new channel will match the success it has already achieved an AFL focused channel Fox Footy.
Under the new rights deal this will be the first season that Fox Sports broadcasts every NRL game live and commercial free. Fox Sports will provide its own commentary team for all matches it simulcasts with Nine, meaning Crawley will be competing directly against the commentary team he previously helped recruit.
Fox Sports CEO, Patrick Delany, said: "This puts in place a very strong team to take us into 2016 and beyond, with two of the best sports producers in the country working side by side. Having recently secured the biggest NRL rights in history and a new channel planned for 2017, we look forward to having Steve and his expertise on the team.”
Nine Network CEO, Hugh Marks said: “Steve Crawley has made an enormous contribution to our business over the past fourteen years. He is one of those rare individuals who knows, practices and lives his craft to the benefit of the team of people who work with him. We’re immensely sad to see him go but wish him well for the future. He will always be a friend of Nine.”
Steve Crawley said: “I’ve had the time of my working life at Nine’s Wide World of Sports alongside many of the legends of Australian sports broadcasting, from commentators to producers, cameramen and cable hands, young and old. I leave with a heavy heart, but at the same time exhilarated by the new challenge ahead of me.”
Hugh Marks said: “We have without doubt the very best sports broadcasting team producing and setting the standard in coverage of sport, led by Alex Rolls, Matt Callander and Brad McNamara. In 2015 our sports broadcasts were the top three rating programs of the year. Taking on the challenge of leading this team of talented sports broadcasters and driving the evolution of Nine’s broader sports strategy will be one of the very best television executives we have in Tom Malone.”
Tom Malone has been with the Nine Network for the past 10 years, first as the executive producer of the Today Show for six and a half years and currently as the executive producer of 60 Minutes.
Tom Malone said: “It’s a huge honour to be taking on this role. Nine has led the way in sports broadcasting for sixty years. I’m aware of the great legacy I have inherited from Steve Crawley and his predecessors, and I’m confident and excited about leading our Wide World of Sports team through what promises to be a period of great innovation in the production and delivery of sports content for all Australians.
“I love my sport. I’ve watched rugby league and cricket all my life – being a tragic Eels supporter and a great fan of the Australian cricket team - so I couldn’t be more pumped about this opportunity.”
Taking over as the Executive Producer of 60 Minutes is Kirsty Thomson, who has been with the program for the past eight years, in the role of Chief of Staff for five of those years.
Kirsty Thomson said: “I am honoured and excited to take on this role. I have always loved working at 60 Minutes and can’t wait to lead the program’s amazing team of reporters, producers, camera crews and editors. This program is iconic in Australian television and I know how much the audience love what we bring each Sunday night. We will continue, and build on that tradition.”
Prior to joining 60 Minutes Thomson was News Editor at BSkyB and before that a senior producer at A Current Affair.
Hugh Marks said: “I welcome Kirsty Thomson to the role of Executive Producer of 60 Minutes. Our flagship current affairs brand has a tradition of leadership by some of the best of our industry, and Darren Wick and I look forward to working with Kirsty in continuing to produce outstanding, award-winning current affairs.”