Combining netball and gym classes, NETFIT Netball is a dual digital and physical program designed to get girls and young women active. Featuring workout videos, fitness plans, coaching drills and wellbeing tips delivered in a short and sharp fashion by some of netball’s most well-known names.
NETFIT’s content is delivered via its broadcast network for online, at-home workouts, as on-demand content and in-person clinics and classes.
It’s the company’s swift pivot to boost their digital vertical with a free, at-home offering during the COVID-19 pandemic that’s caught the eye. Their ability to understand their demographic and keep their community active and engaged during shutdown time. With a younger, digitally savvy demographic coupled with high participation of the sport NETFIT has thrived.
In this conversation we talked to NETFIT Netball’s creator, Sarah Wall.
Considering your elite netball background, was there a particular inflection point that gave you that idea of combining netball and fitness?
Sarah Wall: “There was an a-ha moment. The time I went to a netball court and I was appearing as an elite player for a series of lessons. I had to get around to over 2,000 girls in total across their little teams and groups and coach them in drills and then it just hit me, I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could get them all in one group
“I think the other moment to develop a lifestyle brand in netball came over a period of time whilst I was an elite player. Early in my career I thought, ‘I go off to do gym sessions, or I’m doing body pump for example, but it’s not netball related.’ I started to think, ‘wouldn’t it be good to go to a class that was specifically for netball?’ That was in 2012.
“The other thing, when I really moved into digital, for me it wasn’t necessarily about developing elite netballers, that wasn’t the intent. It’s about the lifestyle they live, it’s about being the best that they can with the skills that they’ve got and providing a digital platform in NETFIT to give them all the tools, support and help from not just me but a collection of netball leaders that are driven to empower young girls.”
NETFIT was able to become an at-home solution rather quickly. How was that transition to delivering an at-home virtual solution during the COVID-19 pandemic?
SW: “If I’m looking at NETFIT from 2020 all the way back to that very first moment back in 2012, where a physical NETFIT class was born.
“Four years ago we decided to develop an app which had session plans and videos. We already had a digital platform but we saw that the demographic we were speaking to, very much women in general, were on social media and craving good content.
“As soon as COVID hit, it was a very simple move. I knew we had to find solutions to keep our users motivated and partners involved. We switched to offering virtual netball classes then within three days we started a broadcast live streaming network to embed within our platform.”
How do you coexist with Netball Australia? How has it been partnering with them?
SW: “It’s been a really educational experience going from one of their players to a business relationship with them. In terms of this program, they have really supported the NETFIT model and Marne Fechner (Netball Australia’s CEO) moved really quickly on the idea and she embraced change by endorsing what we were doing by sponsoring it. Their help was the reason why it was able to grow so quick.
“The state and national bodies have been wanting to build a database of participants and I think they actually looked at us as a speedboat, we could move quickly and they could control the brand message and protect the values of Netball Australia as well. They knew that we would align completely with their mission.”
The high participation base helps with scaling NETFIT as well.
SW: “Where we found the reach really took off wasn’t state bodies, it was back down to grassroots clubs. So our marketing method and strategy was to hit up all grassroots clubs, we haven’t worried about going through different databases, we just went direct to the people.”
So where to next? What do you have planned to make the platform even more engaging, boost the content and more?
SW: “I’ve got a three year plan of building our digital assets through either partnerships or subscriptions. I think what we’ve learned in this time is exactly that segmentation and releasing assets for different markets within netball.
“We’re upgrading our app and it will be an on-demand platform. So what we’ve learned from moving into the segmentation is who our audiences were, what they were wanting, where they spent the most of their time and that’s what we’ve created for round two.
“The next step is UK, we’ve got 17 per cent of our total views at the moment in the UK without doing any marketing. We feel it’s significant and intriguingly they tend to watch replays and non-live content. Asia has been a big catchment for us because we’ve done quite a lot of work in the last two years in that region. The main thing is to maintain our value, continue the why, why do we do it?”
I would imagine your user demographics are younger, digital and social. But you’ve got to bring them in on a whole journey anyway.
SW: “I think where we’re at with this app which we’re ready to launch is called 2.0. So our 2.0 app is focussed on an on-demand experience. Our 3.0 plan is more gamification with rewards built in, we’re looking to launch that by November. The aim is to make sure it’s engaging and make people feel that the NETFIT app is theirs and they can’t live without it.”