Fantasy Sports Why The Sector Has Been Witnessing Humongous Growth In India Suhail Chandhok Ipl Dream 11

The staggering growth of Fantasy Sports platforms in India over the past decade has made a significant impact on how the sports industry functions today. As the performance of a user is linked entirely to one’s knowledge and awareness of sports, Fantasy Sports has become a highly engaging way of experiencing sports for fans, thus explaining the exponential rise in recent times.

Sports viewers in India have generally been large consumers but also passive in the past, but the high propensity to engage and actively participate in fantasy sporting events has augmented their viewing experience today. Results of a study by Millward Brown indicate that 60 percent of sports fans follow or watch more sports when engaged in Fantasy Sports.

The rising Internet penetration in India along with the growth of social media platforms have additionally provided a complementary infrastructure for the growth of sports popularity and in the evolution of fans, from passive viewers to active and engaged participants, thus in turn, providing a viable environment for Fantasy Sports platforms to flourish.

Social media, sports content platforms, and Fantasy Sports have become hotspots to create fan communities where fans can discuss their favourite sports in detail, their top choices ahead of a particular match and engage with other sports fans, which may even include celebrities and sportspersons themselves.

By 2020, India had already achieved a smartphone penetration of 42 percent with the cost of mobile data in India being Rs 51 per GB, significantly lower than the global average of Rs 316 per GB. The presence of low-cost, high-speed Internet has further made for an ideal environment for Fantasy Sports platforms to achieve success and for users to have immediate access to their favourite platforms.

Fantasy Sports users can keep themselves updated with sports news, records, scores, and experts’ analysis anywhere, at any time, thus increasing their engagement with their favourite sports, and in turn, fantasy sports platforms. The rise in OTT platforms has also made it convenient for Fantasy Sports users to livestream their favourite sports on the go while also having access to their Fantasy Sports platforms, all on one device.

Fantasy Sports platforms, in recent years, have also gained the confidence to expand their horizons and actively participate in the sporting ecosystem, as multiple court rulings have outrightly stated that the outcome in Fantasy Sports is dependent on the skill and knowledge of the participant and not on chance and does not encourage gambling, betting, or wagering. With legal clarity on the dominance of skill over chance in Fantasy Sports, platforms are setting up ties with sports leagues, sports associations, tournaments, and sportspersons. We have seen a significant rise in Fantasy Sports users and experts providing tips and other videos to further increase the engagement of fans while watching a sport and creating their favourite Fantasy Sports teams.  

With the success of IPL spawning multiple leagues across the globe, Fantasy Sports users have ample opportunities to participate in Fantasy Sports contests all year long. Cricket, today, still accounts for over 80 percent of the total market value of Fantasy Sports platforms.

As Fantasy Sports operators have helped sports leagues in increasing their viewership and have brought a larger engagement to their product, simultaneously, they are also keen to shake hands with Fantasy Sports platforms. Thus, league tournaments such as the IPL, ICC, NBA, and PKL, but also younger tournaments like the Yuva Kabaddi Series or TNPL are also now partnering with Fantasy Sports operators for deepening engagement and viewership as well as build a closer connection with their fan base.

The growth of Fantasy Sports in India has led to a sizable increase in active sports viewership which in turn leads to more money and resources flowing into the development of sports, increasing investments by brands, and improving the overall sporting infrastructure in the country. The proof is out there already and firmly within the sporting ecosystem of our country. Fantasy Sports is essential to sustain the growth of the sporting industry when the Government rolls out a new Digital India Act to replace the two-decade-old laws and regulations.

The author is a sports presenter, commentator, and entrepreneur. He has been associated with popular events such as IPL, ICC Cricket World Cup, Pro Kabaddi, Wimbledon, and more.

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