PlayerZpot: Fantasy sports industry will turn the table 2021

The fantasy sports platform has seen significant growth since its inception in India, however, this year has been challenging for fantasy sports operators due to Covid -19 outbreak. Online fantasy sports is very instrumental in revolutionising the manner in which sports enthusiasts engage with their respective favourite sports. Therefore when sporting events are all called off due to Covid 19 outbreak, fantasy sports platform suffered.

In conversation with Animationxpress PlayerZpot founder, Mitesh Gangar and Yogesh Doiphode shared their insights on how has been Indian fantasy sports market in 2020, the challenges, and more.

Here are the excerpts:
How has been the year for fantasy sports in India? 

For fantasy sports segment in India, this year was a complete roller coaster ride. Since fantasy games largely depend on live events/matches, the year 2020 started off with a good number of matches in Jan-Feb, but suddenly faced extremely limited matches from March-August due to global pandemic leading to limited sporting events. The occurrence of IPL2020 gave the industry a much-needed thrust and this momentum is still continuing with many international and domestic leagues across different sports making a comeback.

Apart from this, the recent bans by two Indian states brought a tense atmosphere to the whole online fantasy sports industry and operators. With the NITI Aayog bringing in draft guidelines for the industry, we expect it will help the industry as a whole to gain recognition and differentiation which will set them apart from other online betting games.

What are the key trends you have noticed in fantasy sports?

The general key trend, during the pandemic period where cricket as a global sport was completely hit with no occurrence of matches, at that time, few series of Basketball and Baseball were still happening in some parts of the world. As a cricketing nation, wherein fantasy segment cricket continues to dominate more than 85 per cent, in the absence of cricket, the trend was seen for the consumption of basketball, baseball, volleyball and handball in fantasy segments.

How has been the user behaviour on fantasy sports platforms as sporting events like IPL commenced?

This year, due to pandemic induced lockdown and sports events being cancelled all over the globe, the announcement of IPL 2020 happening brought a wave of good cheer to the fans, users and fantasy sports operators. IPL2020 happening even amidst the lockdown brought an increase in the viewership of the matches and with fantasy sports operators and platforms pitching in as sponsors, this shone a spotlight on the industry as a whole. This and growing awareness at large has helped fantasy sports gain the much-needed boost during this IPL.

How has been the year for PlayerZpot? Could you share your statistics for 2020?

We ended FY 2019-20 on a good note with Rs 11.5Cr in gross revenue, which was 50 per cent more than the preceding year. This year has seen its ups and downs. Due to the pandemic, six months have been washed out. But the surge experienced and the boost received due to IPL2020, which enjoyed high viewership and interest due to fans engaging more due to being quarantined at home, we are confident that we will be able to at least match up to last years revenue.

During this IPL we have seen a strong new user base spike and we have crossed 2.5 million registered user base. The last 0.5 million was recorded in the shortest span of time for PlayerZpot.

According to you, what have been the challenges for fantasy sports this year?

With a dearth of live sporting events due to Covid, it was a challenge to engage the existing userbase. The fantasy sports industry, during the first few months of the Lockdown, was brought to its knees due to no real-world sports.

The cancellation of marquee series like the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Asia Cup, International series accompanied by uncertainty around IPL2020 has all made this year a great learning experience for the whole industry.

Moreover, with the constant debacle around the legality of fantasy sports and legal bans brought at the state level, the industry had multiple issues to overcome throughout the year.

There are a lot of new fantasy sports platforms emerging.
How challenging or easy it is/will it be for them to sustain in the market right now?

PlayerZpot came up with the idea to build a platform around Fantasy sports, but with a strong sense of connection to the real-world sporting events. No doubt there are multiple players entering into the market, but it remains to be seen how well they can keep their userbase engaged in the long run. With a keen sense of understanding of the industry the entry barrier may not be difficult, but to inculcate a sense of trust amongst the users and create a differentiation in a maturing market will be the main challenge. 

What is your expansion plan for 2021?

This pandemic has served as an opportunity in the form of time – to consider our future plans to conceive new avenues to engage our active userbase. We have started with real-money skill-based casual games, through a quiz segment. It has quickly become one of the most engaging factors helping us retain users on the PlayerZpot platform in the absence of real-life events. So far, we have been able to add five casual games and are targeting adding many more in 2021. This opportunity has served to re-construct the PlayerZpot vision, and now we are working towards our goal to become ‘India Ka Naya Gaming Destination!’

Where will the fantasy gaming market be in 2021?

The year 2021 will be of prime importance to everyone in the industry. With the return of IPL in India, followed by the World Cup, the cricketing calendar looks promising. As of now, cricket accounts for 90 per cent of the overall fantasy sports market in India.

With major events happening, the exposure of fantasy gaming will be at an all-time high. As this will be the first time people would be exposed to two IPLs and one World Cup within a year span. The recall value of Fantasy games will peak and we believe it will be a year which can turn around the complete industry.