Guest Column|How has been the year 2020 for fantasy sports in India?

The Indian Sports industry has witnessed tremendous growth over the past decade. In a nation like India where Cricket has been dominating the sports arena, we have a long road ahead in becoming a multi-sport nation. Even though sports like Kabbadi, Badminton, Football, Basketball, and Volleyball are looking for ways to create an exceptional spot in the Indian sports industry, it will set aside some effort to reach the scale and fame of Cricket.

Fantasy Akhada founder Amit Purohit

Today, sports are easily accessible to the Indians by courtesy of cheap smartphones and overwhelming internet data offering content to be consumed whenever and wherever they want. With the evolution of a multitude of sports and leagues coupled with rapid improvement in digital infrastructure, it has been witnessing an assortment of sports tech innovations. Furthermore, Fantasy sports have emerged rapidly as one such sports tech innovative tool that has grown substantially in the last couple of years. 

Earlier, sports fans used to engage with their favourite sports league and tournament mainly on the Television and stadium. But with the advent of social media, fantasy sports fans can now effectively participate and create their virtual teams on a fantasy sports platform to socially compete with fellow fans, friends, and family. Fantasy Sports users watch 60 per cent more sports. Online Fantasy Sports provides sports fans with a transparent, non-addictive form of engagement.

As of now, there are over 140 OFS (Online Fantasy Sports) operators and around 90 million sports fans in India, today engage with these platforms. Undoubtedly, fantasy sports have shown phenomenal growth within a short period. As per the report of Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports-KPMG, the gross revenues of OFS operators stood at Rs 2,400 crore in FY20 as compared to Rs 920 crores in FY19 which is almost up three times YOY.

With COVID-19 pandemic hitting pretty much every live major sports event to get delayed or even dropped, the fantasy sports industry boomed like never before. Sports fans have been consuming long-tail sports by utilising fantasy sports. The Online Fantasy Sports industry was able to present a variety of mind-boggling sporting actions to sports fans in India in 2020 by introducing the newest sports and tournaments held in COVID-19 free places. The Online Fantasy Sports platforms have offered more than 1,000 matches globally and won over five million participating users. As indicated by the industry, online fantasy sports platforms and operators cumulatively paid Rs 166 crores in GST in FY19 and Rs 445 crores in FY20.

The online fantasy sports industry in 2020 has colossally contributed to other existing businesses including online sports scoring platforms, e-commerce, online sports streaming and digital payments, content aggregators, and sports merchandise. Today, a multitude of leading brands are eyeing on OFS as a potential medium for marketing their products.

After a prolonged pause, the Indian Sports industry has been recuperating from the disruption of the pandemic. Even when the Indian Premier League has made a promising return in 2020, the Fantasy Sports industry is similarly back with full strength with mainstream tournaments across cricket, football, baseball and more. Online sports fan engagement platforms like fantasy sports will play a pivotal role in driving fan engagement in the near future as major sporting events will take place with a lesser crowd.

The demand for Fantasy Sports is enormous today. Apart from economic contribution, this industry provides bunches of career and employment opportunities to young enthusiasts. Fantasy Sports are expected to contribute 100 per cent growth to sports in India over the next two years. Today, when more than 3400 people are directly employed in the fantasy sports industry and more than 5100 people are indirectly used in India’s fantasy sports industry, the overall year has been radiating with success for the industry.

(This article has been contributed by Fantasy Akhada founder Amit Purohit , and AnimationXpress does not necessarily subscribe to these views)

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