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The Biggest IPL Gamble: Decoding the Daily Rise of 130 Million Fantasy Cricket Gamers

Published on 20 Apr, 2024
Author CredAble Team

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has come a long way as a multinational sporting franchise.

Having registered a massive 28% growth in its brand value after the 2023 season, IPL has achieved the status of a “Decacorn”, a title given to a privately owned startup that has surpassed the $10 billion valuation milestone.

Looking back at its maiden year in 2008, IPL has grown in value by 433% in the last 15 years to reach 10.7 billion dollars, equivalent to a staggering Rs 89,232 crore.

It’s safe to say that the IPL has entered the big leagues now. The tournament has witnessed significant growth in TV ad volumes this year. The number of sponsors and categories has gone up by 26% and 63%, respectively, to more than 50.

Among the major categories present in IPL 2024, which include food products and smartphones, the top 5 comprised a 52% share of ad volumes, with Ecom-Gaming leading the list.

Against this backdrop, with the excitement and momentum around the IPL matches intensifying as teams progress further in the tournament—the fantasy gaming market is gearing up for a revenue and user boost. To set the ball rolling, the first day of the 17th edition of the IPL season saw fantasy gaming giant Dream11 onboarding 1.1 million new users, along with 15.01 million concurrent users.

In this article, we will understand the economics behind India’s booming market for fantasy sports, which is expected to grow at a 30% CAGR up until 2027.

Fantasy gaming platforms shine on

A few months ago, the 28% GST move was feared to be a death knell for India’s gaming industry. Amidst ongoing uncertainties surrounding GST regulations impacting fantasy gaming platforms—many fantasy gaming companies have hit pause on huge marketing spends.

As a sunrise sector, fantasy sports has drawn the interest of both local and global investors, with estimated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) exceeding Rs 10,000 crore, as reported by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) and Deloitte in 2022. Additionally, this sector is projected to draw Rs 15,000 crore in the next three years.

The marquee tournament for fantasy gaming in India—IPL—last year played a pivotal role in helping these platforms clock a gross gaming revenue of around INR 2,800 crore compared to INR 2,250 crore in 2022.

IPL has always meant big money for fantasy gaming platforms. If we look at the numbers, IPL matches play a substantial role, contributing between 35% and 50% to the revenue stream of fantasy sports platforms. The total user base for the fantasy gaming market reached 61 million during the two-month IPL period in 2023, with an impressive 35% comprising new entrants to fantasy gaming.

Today, driven by strategic investments, the fantasy gaming industry has grown to a market size of over INR 34,000 crore and now has more than 130 million daily users.

So what’s driving 130 million daily users to fantasy gaming platforms?

The thrilling and unpredictable nature of IPL matches encourages massive participation on fantasy platforms. In conjunction with the Indian T20 league season—Howzat, the country’s leading multi-gaming app, has introduced its newest edition of ‘The Grand Winnings Playground’ campaign. This unique initiative offers fantasy cricket players daily chances to win cars and cash prizes of up to INR 1 crore every match hour.

It’s not just the cash prizes driving up the user base for fantasy gaming platforms.

The pressure of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and peer influence prompts users to gravitate towards the most popular fantasy gaming platforms during peak seasons. Many individuals feel compelled to join the biggest names in the fantasy gaming industry owing to the desire to be part of a shared experience. This social phenomenon amplifies during live sports events like the IPL. Over 800 million viewers tuned in during 2023 to watch live sports. Cricket, particularly IPL 2023 and Cricket World Cup 2023, captured massive audiences exceeding 500 million each.

Interestingly, last year fantasy sports in India saw cricket leading with the largest proportion of registered users, accounting for 85%, followed by kabaddi, which held a user share of 26%.

Subsequently, in the same year, we saw users on the Dream11 platform collectively form around 1,000 crore fantasy sports teams. Furthermore, Dream11 reported an impressive 79% year-on-year growth in female users, reflecting a notable expansion of the user base.

The IPL effect on fantasy gaming platforms

Over the years, it’s interesting to see that IPL’s value has skyrocketed.

The IPL's successful comeback to packed stadiums, expanded viewership across various devices, significant media collaborations, and renewed advertiser interest have all bolstered its brand. The tournament has emerged as a prime avenue for introducing new products and initiatives, connecting with the widest audience in India.

Tournaments like the IPL and the Pro Kabaddi League give fantasy gaming platforms centre stage, allowing them to gain more visibility and connect with a larger audience.

When these tournaments are in full swing, fantasy gaming companies experience unprecedented traffic and record-breaking revenues on their platforms.

During the 2023 season, there was an 11% rise in cash users on these gaming platforms, with each user spending an average of Rs 127 per match. While players like Dream Sports, the company that owns the popular online fantasy gaming platform Dream11, lead the charts with an $8 billion valuation, MyTeam11 is among the other fantasy gaming platforms that have pulled ahead with an impressive rise in revenue to the tune of 40%.

Fantasy gaming platforms have also experienced a notable surge in funding in recent years. This increased investment is being utilised by these companies to enhance their core offerings and support various technology and gaming startups in India, thereby contributing to the growth of the Indian sports ecosystem. Notably, Games 24x7, Mobile Premier League (MPL), and Dream Sports have jointly invested a substantial sum of INR 2,400 crore to date.

To stay ahead and enhance their brand presence, fantasy gaming platforms are leveraging celebrity endorsements. Games24x7 recently appointed cricketers Rinku Singh and Yashasvi Jaiswal to represent My11Circle.

India's fantasy gaming platform user base is 3x that of North America

With the number of fantasy gamers expected to hit 500 million by 2025, the Indian fantasy sports industry is recognised as a key driver of economic and technological advancement in India.

India boasts the fastest-growing fantasy sports market globally, with a user base nearly three times larger than that of North America.

Additionally, fantasy sports platforms play a role in fostering grassroots athlete development through sponsorship initiatives. For instance, in the IPL, the BCCI allocates approximately 13% of sponsorship and media rights revenue to support domestic and international athletes. State associations receive 35% of this funding to enhance sports development at the local level and facilitate various activities.

Looking ahead, the exponential rise of fantasy gaming platforms presents an interesting space to watch in the coming years, reshaping the landscape of sports entertainment and digital engagement.

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