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Fantasy Sports: The New Buzz In Sports In India

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Abstract

The title of my research rotates around the latest trend to catch on to the sports loving Indian i.e. Fantasy Sports. India is a vast nation with the second highest population in the world and let’s not forget that majority of this population is the youth. Majority of this population eats, sleeps and drinks Cricket and now even other sports. Majority of this population is tech- savvy and has access to the latest gadgets. Majority of this population has access to one of the cheapest Internet in the world. They are aware of what’s happening across the globe. More so they have an opinion on everything be it sports or politics. Social Media has made them more outspoken and they express their views more freely. The society in our country has moved from single wage-earning families to dual earning families and this has led to the increase in the spending Power and standard of Living of an average Indian. So, what if their urge to opinionate couples with their passion for sports. The icing on the cake would be if they could earn a quick buck out of this too. This is where Fantasy Sports fits in.

Introduction

There is a very famous saying in India that only two things sell in India, Cricket and Bollywood movies. But things are changing today and more so the horizon is expanding. Regional and International Content are also getting their due in movies. Language is no longer a barrier. Its no longer odd to see your neighbourhood watchman watching the latest English flick dubbed in his regional language and loving it. The same is the case with sports. India is a vast country with a huge amalgamation of cultures. Cricket surely holds its strong position, but other sports also are slowly catching steam. With the huge success of the money-spinning cricket league “IPL”, other sports too have followed suit with leagues in football and Kabaddi being big promoters for the sport. This has really helped these sports to grow beyond their catchment areas like Football in West Bengal. Also, today’s Indian youth surely knows more than a bit of the English Premier League and the F1 car racing thanks to the tremendous growth in multimedia and easy access to information.

Today sports is a hot topic of discussion, other than politics. Everybody is a coach; everybody is a player. Discussions range from they should have picked x player in the team to they should have attacked that way; the list is endless. Betting on Sports except horse racing is illegal in India but unofficial bets have been there since ages may it be among friends to colleagues. People are very superstitious too when it comes to sport which adds to the fun. The only element missing till now was to make this passive enthusiasm active; make sports lovers more involved, more participative and if this comes with an incentive than even better. That is where fantasy sports takes the cake.

Fantasy Sports

What is it?

In Fantasy sports, users can create their own teams in various sports by choosing players across participating teams in that match and compete with others forming their own teams. It is unlike any other game. It’s not just about the performance of the player or playing teams but it’s a game of knowledge and strategy of the user. He /she should be aware of each individual player and his/her traits along with following the team’s performance, the ground, history and multiple other factors. He/she needs to be updated of the regular happenings and manage budgets while choosing his/her team. He/she needs to be at it everyday or whenever the matches are played as one miss may drop his/her ranking in the table amongst other users.

Fantasy Sports Industry in India

Fantasy sports industry in India is at a very nascent stage but progressing in the right direction. The number of users has increased over the years, but the revenue has not increased at the same pace. It will yet take a long time before it becomes a profitable model. It is already a very profitable business proposition globally.

It is perhaps the best way to keep the users actively hooked on to the sport. It is a unique experience for the Indian sports fan. Indians today have access to cheap and fast data today thanks to companies like Jio. An average Indian is today migrating to a smart phone very fast. This has boosted growth of Fantasy Sports in India. Dual income households leading to more spendable income and people looking at secondary sources of income has also provided tremendous boost to this industry. The emergence of super successful leagues like I.P.L (Cricket), leagues in Kabaddi, Badminton and Football to name a few, have increased the interest of people towards a variety of sports. Today leagues are considering Fantasy sports as a brilliant method to cross promote the sport or league. This has led to the development of many official fantasy leagues related to sports events and is a win-win situation for all the parties, the sports organisers, the fantasy sports creators and the sports fans which makeup the target base for both.

Fantasy sports are making the unofficial bets and predictions official. Also, they keep coming up with innovative formats and methods to enhance the user experience and increase his/her involvement. The user enjoys the game or sport even more as he/she is competing with real users and there is a lot at stake.

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Another factor to keep in mind is that in team sports, minor tournaments have a cascading effect on the major tournaments. So, to get a complete idea about the player or teams’ performance, form, the user ends up playing fantasy sports even during the smaller tournaments leading to the major ones. They help the user to understand the nuances of the sport, teams and game better.

Monetizing the Model

Monetizing has always been an issue in online gaming industry in India. Internationally users are open to spending on apps, games and technology. But India is a very price conscious market. The users are not that open for spending on games. Also, if there are no monetary benefits for the user then he/she will also lose interest very fast. Therefore, companies have started using a different business model. In the freemium model, trial or initial practice games are offered free of charge to consumers but if they want to participate in important matches and reap big benefits then they are offered more benefits at a cost. The initial freebies are used to train people in terms of how to play the game and gives first timers time to hone their skills. Credits earned in the trial sections can also be used to gain discounts and offers in the paid ones.

Majority of fantasy players enjoy the game for free. More than half of users have played cash games at least once in a year. Major of the spends are re-investments that came from previous winnings, cash bonus or periodical promotions given on these platforms. It is a safe and structured investment medium. Increased availability of spendable income and higher standard of living have also contributed to the same.

Another method of monetizing the model is in app purchases. In this model, the game is offered free but major amounts are earned by in app purchases which sets the ball rolling. A very successful model in the west but may not be completely successful in the Indian market.

The third method of monetizing the fantasy sports is by introducing advertisements and offers in the online fantasy game leagues. In this method, the game is free but there are advertisements at the beginning, during and/or after the game. There are many advantages for advertisers in this medium. Firstly, advertisers can get a niche, focussed, captive target audience unlike Television and OOH. Secondly as the user base increases, it becomes more and more profitable medium for the advertisers. Thirdly it acts as a direct of shoot of the game unlike other mediums which gives them access to active users during the game.

Social media has played a major role in pushing this growth as it has led to people discussing about various sports and being aware of the happenings even when they are busy at work. So many are following the game on digital platforms.

Flipside

Fantasy sports are not all rosy. They have their set of issues too. Fantasy sports are played on top of real games, so when live real matches are not on so the user is not interested in the fantasy games. This creates the issue of seasonality. All sports are not played throughout the year and major events in sports take place once in a year or once in 2-4 years which again adds on to the problem of seasonality. Also, when India is playing a sport, the fans are fully behind their team but when India is not playing or for sports where India does not play, the interest is limited. The interest towards mock games is very low.

Conclusion

Fantasy Sports are here to stay. Its yet early days in India but looking at the way it has caught the user’s fantasy, it surely has a bright future. The biggest challenge for all online gaming companies is how to monetize the model as India is a very complicated and cost sensitive market. Another challenge for them is to keep the users hooked for long times and all around the year. But with more and more sports leagues coming up in India and each one of them turning out to be a money spinner, fantasy sports played on top of those games are bound to be successful. Innovation, creativity and incentives are going to be the keys for this industry in the days to come.

References

  1. The Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) and KPMG (2019). The evolving landscape of sport gaming in India.
  2. Panjari, S. (n.d.). In-depth: How online fantasy sports is becoming a major business in India. Retrieved from https://bestmediainfo.com/2019/04/in-depth-how-online-fantasy-sports-is-becoming-a-major-business-in-india/
  3. Fantasy-Sports-App-Development. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/codiant-3498802-fantasy-sports-app-development/
  4. Daileda, C., & Daileda, C. (2013, September 29). More Than a Game: The Disruptive Force of Fantasy Football. Retrieved from https://mashable.com/2013/09/29/fantasy-football/?europe=true
  5. Are T20 leagues making money? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thecricketmonthly.com/story/1124714/are-t20-leagues-making-money

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Fantasy Sports: The New Buzz In Sports In India. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/fantasy-sports-the-new-buzz-in-sports-in-india/
“Fantasy Sports: The New Buzz In Sports In India.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/fantasy-sports-the-new-buzz-in-sports-in-india/
Fantasy Sports: The New Buzz In Sports In India. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/fantasy-sports-the-new-buzz-in-sports-in-india/> [Accessed 7 Oct. 2022].
Fantasy Sports: The New Buzz In Sports In India [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 24 [cited 2022 Oct 7]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/fantasy-sports-the-new-buzz-in-sports-in-india/
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