As per the guesstimates of one of the panellists, from 2 million users in 2016, the number of users easily stand at 100 million today
The gaming industry, in India and globally, has changed dramatically after the pandemic and has become the top means of entertainment. From being considered a vice a few years back to becoming a mainstream entertainment activity, the Indian online gaming industry has indeed come a long way in the last few years. From 25 companies to now 300 odd and the numbers are changing by the day. Fantasy Sports, a promising sub-sector in its right is overcoming challenges to become a steady contributor to the rise in the sector. It has travelled quite a regulatory journey in India as there are no written regulations formally in India.
This was extensively debated and deliberated during a session on ‘The Pearls & Perils of Fantasy Sports’ Gaming Summit 2021’ during BW Gaming Summit 2021. As per the guesstimates of one of the panellists, from 2 million users a in 2016, the number of users easily stand at 100 million today. The numbers aggregated across all platforms stand at 125-130 million, which is one fourth of smartphone internet users in the country. The session was chaired by Rameesh Kailasam, CEO & President, IndiaTech Org.
Madhur Singhal, Managing Partner and CEO, Praxis Global Alliance, “India is a very entertainment deficient country where we don’t have gaming zones and arcades. So, sports fans would be seeking entertainment avenues that would be engaging to them. With everybody having smartphone devices and digital payments becoming easy, and users seeking engaging sports participation and fulfilling lives, a combination of all these factors have created a very fertile ground for this market to flourish. You would see many more fantasy gamers, more markets of developing players.”
During the e-session, one of the panellists maintained that online gaming is growing at 34% CAGR and will be worth 4-5 billion dollars in the next 5 years. Within that space, online fantasy could account for 50% of the pie at US$ 2.5-3 billion in terms of market size.
Talking about the challenges and opportunities in the fantasy gaming sector, Amit Purohit – Founder – Fantasy Akhada reveals, “There is a lot of headroom available as far as engaging with fantasy sports fans is concerned. Also, another aspect is because people have started playing fantasy sports, they have started following sports more. The two challenges that I see from an investor’s perspective is regulatory uncertainty and also because the sheer size of some of the players is so huge, there is some uncertainty among people to believe that this might not work for some of the other players.”
Seconding his thoughts, Ankit Anand, Business Head of FantasyDangal asserts, “The task to acquire users is easy than retaining them as there are multiple platforms, which have their own advantages and disadvantages. While some users will be very happy with the technology space, while some of them will be totally interested in bonuses and offers. It
actually makes a lot of sense to personally interact with the users and build that psyche and build that relation of the users to retain him even though it may take a lot of time.”
Sidharth Pisharoti, Regional Vice President at Akamai Technologies – India, South East Asia and APJ Carrier, “As an ardent fantasy game player myself, what I can tell you is that two things bother me as a someone who is playing fantasy games. Firstly, experience to make those changes in the team in those 30 minutes before the game actually starts. Secondly, my personal data and other information that I put on the app.”
Suhail Chandhok, Co-Founder, Kabaddi Adda, “You start to see the power of ‘Naya Bharat’. With the data getting cheaper, there is a lot of disposable income in the hands of people from tier 2 and 3 cities that is going to go towards fantasy gaming. That driver of more viewership actually is coming from fantasy (games). It is like a chicken and egg situation wherein live sport is driving fantasy but fantasy is also driving viewership of more live sport.”
Sunil Yadav, CEO, Playerzpot, “People have started moving from just normal cricketing-based nation to other events. Like during the pandemic, people are switching away from cricket to football. So, fantasy cricket, even if there is Covid or there are restrictions in real world sports happening, people need entertainment in some sort or the other., It is a win-win situation for online fantasy sports and live sporting events.”