Fantasy Sports Industry in India Sees a Massive Boom

Fantasy sports are online games in which a person assembles team of virtual players who receive points based on their performance on field.

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Fantasy sports are online games in which a person assembles a team of virtual athletes who receive points based on their performance on the field. The greater the user’s score, the better a player performs on the field.

Fantasy sports are frequently compared to gambling. It is the most prevalent misconception about fantasy sports, although it is completely different from betting. Stakes are placed on a game based on luck and chance in betting. There is no calculation or research effort involved in placing the stakes. It is analogous to tossing a coin when the chances of getting heads or tails are equal.

Evolution of fantasy sports

Fantasy sports are not a new concept. In reality, it goes back to the 1950s, when Wilfred Bill Winkenbach created the first fantasy competition, dubbed ‘Fantasy Golf.’ Regardless, it was the world’s first offline fantasy sport. With the dot-com boom in 2001, fantasy sports became a household brand throughout the world.

Fantasy sports – History

Joy Bhattacharya developed the first fantasy sports idea in India, ESPN Super Selector, in 2001. Bhattacharya, a former TD of the Kolkata Knight Riders, is widely regarded as the founder of fantasy sports in India. The idea behind a super selector was simple: users had to choose the best playing eleven before any series, and their selection would be valid for the duration of the tournament, with the person whose team gained the most points proclaimed the champion.

Launch of India’s first professional fantasy app-Dream11

ESPN Super Selector was a starting stone for fantasy sports in India, but true revolution occurred with launch of Dream11 in 2008. Dream11, which debuted the same year as Indian Premier League, was first Indian firm to provide consumers with a commission-based fantasy game based on real-time data.

Dream11 collected $385 million from investors and became India’s first gaming company in 2019. It is now the official sponsor of the Indian Premier League.

Dream11, on the other hand, is not the only fantasy sports platform. In 2016, there were less than ten firms in this area, but currently, there are around 140 distinct companies in India that provide consumers with a fantasy gaming platform experience.

Aside from Dream 11, a slew of additional apps, including Halaplay, Myteam11, Mobile Premier League (MPL), Playerzpot, Ballebaazi, Gamezy, and the recently released FantasyAkhada, have been the proud banner bearers of fantasy sports in India. Apart from cricket, these platforms provide a variety of other sports such as football, basketball, kabaddi, and so on.

Every value investment now has a market price. According to FICCI-EY research, online Indian gaming market recorded a staggering 6,500 crore in 2019 and is expected to reach a historic high of 18,700 crores by 2022. According to most recent sources, Dream11 has raised $225 million in September 2020, while Mobile Premier League has raised $90 million immediately before the 14th season of IPL.

In the previous four calendar years, the market valuation of fantasy sports has increased ninefold, from INR 1,743 crores to a whopping INR 16,467 crores. Furthermore, the Fantasy sports businesses have received about INR 2.5 thousand crores in revenue, while the government has received INR 776 million in taxation. According to estimates, India alone has 10 crore individuals who participate in fantasy sports in the country.

What caused the explosion of fantasy sports culture?

The question now is what caused the explosion of fantasy sports culture in India. The following are some of the factors that have led to the enormous surge.

The rise of IPL:

The IPL has transformed franchise cricket throughout the world. It was this series that helped to globalize cricket to the point that all of the main cricket-playing nations have begun to create franchise-based competitions in their own countries. The user base of franchise cricket has grown considerably as a result of a large number of matches offered.

Digitalization of sports:

Access to global sports has grown much easier since the introduction of OTT. Users may now watch sports from all around the world on their mobile devices, which has enhanced fan involvement.

Wide coverage of different sports:

Previously, most fantasy gamers waited for the IPL to show off their abilities. It was a one and a half month engagement that ended abruptly. However, fantasy applications have expanded their reach beyond the IPL. They cover all of the main franchise-based events as well as international matchups. Cricket is not the only sport covered; other sports are as well.

Brand value and big names:

Dream11 has signed MS Dhoni as a brand ambassador. Sourav Ganguly backs MyTeam11, while Virat Kohli backs MPL. Kl Rahul is a Gamezy brand ambassador, and the list goes on. With such famous personalities on board, the brand value of fantasy applications has risen, providing much-needed credibility, and it has also infiltrated families.

Real-time experience:

Another appealing aspect of fantasy sports is that performance is assessed in real-time. When a boundary is hit or a bowler takes a wicket in a match and the players appear on the user’s squad, it is guaranteed to cause an adrenaline surge in the users.

Rewards:

The final aspect that has contributed to the popularity of fantasy sports is incentives. It is extremely profitable for customers if they have a chance of winning INR 1 lakh with a modest investment of INR 50. In reality, with proper study and analysis, consumers may make a lot of money by playing fantasy sports.

Finally, all wonderful things are fraught with controversy. There have been instances when the authenticity of the players has been called into doubt, or where certain jurisdictions have outlawed the use of these applications. In reality, certain legal issues are surrounding the classification of fantasy sports in India. States such as Odisha, Telangana, Assam, Tamil Nadu, and Sikkim think that fantasy gaming violates state legislation and continues to prohibit it. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, has said that “fantasy sports have an element of talent that mainly impacts the outcome of the games and, as such, are not gambling activities but games of skill.”

Having said that, we can infer that the period of fantasy sports has just recently begun in India, and it will be the next great thing in the virtual realm.

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