There’s no denying the fact that India is a dominant force in the world of cricket. With the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) underway, the cricket craze in the country is unmatched. Home to the world’s most extensive cricket fan base, the love for the game has only grown by leaps and bounds in the country.
Over the years, IPL’s brand value has also skyrocketed to touch $8.4 billion, up from $4.7 billion in 2021. Given the $16 million per match value, IPL has successfully catapulted past many global leagues. Today, IPL has secured a top spot as the fastest-growing and second-most valuable sports league in the world.
While all the action takes place in the stadiums, fantasy gaming has also gone beyond just being a pastime for a few to a multi-billion-dollar industry experiencing meteoric growth in recent times. The fantasy sports market in India has made significant strides by attracting foreign direct investments and boosting economic growth. With substantial amounts of working capital pouring into this space and as fantasy sports companies, Dream11 and MPL have entered the coveted unicorn club—India now has the largest fantasy sports market in the world with more than 13 crore users.
Fantasy sports platform: What you need to know
Considering how its popularity is reaching every nook and corner of the country, the fantasy gaming industry is ushering in a progressive transformation of the sports ecosystem in India. As an extension of real-life sporting events, fantasy games are played across multiple sports, ranging from cricket, and football to basketball. That said, reports show that cricket is the crowd favourite on Indian fantasy sports platforms.
Fantasy sports are digital sports engagement platforms, in which users can build their own virtual teams consisting of proxies of real-life players from forthcoming matches. These virtual teams are awarded points based on the real-world statistical performances of their players and winners are offered lucrative prize money.
In fantasy sports, users can take on the role of a coach or a manager, with the power to recruit and trade the players of their choice. While for some it’s the strategy and break-neck competition the game entails, for many others, it’s all about the deeper and more meaningful engagement with the sporting event, that goes way beyond mere viewership. The momentum for the fantasy gaming sector is only going to pick up, considering India’s love for sports. According to a report by Redseer Strategy Consultants, the gross gaming revenue of fantasy sports during the 2023 season of the IPL, is expected to grow in the range of 30-35% to reach Rs 2,900-3,100 crore.
The IPL economy and the rise of fantasy sports
While the growth in the user base of fantasy sports platforms has been to the tune of 20%, this year, a 20-30% growth in user transactions is expected. Much of this growth is expected from tier 2 cities.
The increase in adoption of the fantasy sports platform can be attributed to IPL’s growing popularity. The IPL cricket tournament alone contributes close to 35-40% of the overall annual revenue that fantasy gaming platforms earn. The average revenue per user is expected to be Rs. 440 this season, growing from Rs. 410 in IPL 2022.
An increase in internet accessibility coupled with smartphone penetration has been an added boon to the IPL economy. Cross-migration of users from other games and the government’s regulatory push by formalising rules regarding GST for Real Money Gaming (RMG) platforms are some of the key factors driving the growing adoption of fantasy sports platforms. That’s not all, under its pilot program, Google allows mainly big players like Dream11, MPL Rummy, and Fantasy Cricket on the Google Play Store.
In a bid to draw more users and retain them on the platforms, fantasy gaming companies have ramped up their marketing efforts during the IPL season. On the other hand, IPL’s ad revenue has grown threefold since 2018. With the IPL business soaring to new heights, advertisers end up shelling out high premiums to feature during the matches.
The multiplier effect of the fantasy sports platforms in India
There are strong organic ties between live sports and fantasy sports. The rising popularity of fantasy gaming platforms will also result in a parallel growth of India’s sports industry. As more users flock to fantasy gaming platforms to showcase their skills, the fantasy sports market will be a great source for the growth of the country’s economy, creating future-ready jobs and forex through FDI.
Additionally, the fantasy sports industry is also a major contributor to the growth of other existing businesses, including online sports content aggregators, digital payments, sports merchandising, and online sports streaming among others. RNG (Random Number Generator) certification and secure payment gateways are significant measures being introduced to further enhance users’ trust in the platforms. With the concrete efforts of the stakeholders, fantasy sports companies are making a mark in the country, creating a broad-based sporting culture right from the grassroots. As the number of digital transactions from fantasy sports platforms is projected to surge in 2023 and beyond, we are expecting to see the emergence of a world-leading model. Until then, it’s GAME ON for fantasy sports in India!