Guest Column | The changing dynamics of fantasy games in India

India is all set to become a real sporting nation, where each sports fan wants to engage himself with the sport in multiple ways, rather than just watching the sport live. In the coming years, the market competition will only intensify, with the expected fantasy sports users growing to 100 million by 2020, as per a recent report by the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG). Today, the Indian fantasy sports industry plays a vital role in keeping the user engaged in the sport, giving them the opportunity to own virtual teams. All of this comes together with an increase in product and service extensions along with technological innovations. The acceptance and excitement for fantasy sports are quite high among the customers. It is a platform where participants make their own virtual teams with real players from different teams who are scheduled to play in a league or a match. The win and loss are based on the points accumulated by the users for their fantasy team in comparison to other users. Points are awarded to players selected on a virtual team on their real on-field performance. Till around 2016, this was a concept that was new to India, with just a handful of operators. Today, there are over 60 operators with almost one new operator coming each week. RummyCircle recently introduced the new platform My11Circle, understanding the passion for fantasy cricket. Being a part of the online gaming industry, what we could clearly see was that most of the Indian online players have a very keen interest in fantasy sports. In fact, 67 per cent of online sports fans are aware of fantasy sports. The biggest factor that connects players to fantasy games like cricket and football is the deep engagement with the sport and the excitement to be part of the action. It’s the players’ opportunity to showcase his gaming knowledge and skill and form his own team. The games are realistic, with the contestants win or lose depending on the selected player’s performance. It is purely skill based, and with the correct gaming knowledge and strategy, anyone can form a winning team. What’s leading the growth? The fantasy sports industry today is already worth 43.8 billion and is expected to reach INR 118.8 billion by FY23, with a growth rate of CAGR 22.1 per cent. With more disposable income, along with multiple payment options, this industry is all set to grow by leaps and bounds. It is a world that is not only filled with excitement but where each player is the owner of their favorite team. In short, it becomes aspirational for each Indian sports fan. There are further insightful details shared by the KPMG 2019 report.
  • There are over 74 per cent of players who play at least one type of fantasy sports at least one to three times a week.
  • Over 69 per cent of players also feel that there are no overlaps between fantasy sports and sports betting
  • One interesting fact is that just around 30 per cent of spends on fantasy sports platform come from the users pocket. Around 75 per cent of the spends is just re-investments that come from different winnings, cash bonus, or promotional offers.
At the moment fantasy sports players mostly come from the top 78 cities of India. Around 85 per cent of these players enjoy fantasy sports one to three times a week. The most preferred and popular fantasy game is cricket that captures 71per cent of the fantasy sports market, closely followed by football with 54 per cent . The digital infrastructure is growing, with affordable smartphones, growth in internet user base and reduced data costs. The report stated that Internet subscribers increased from 368 million in September 2016 to over 560 million in September 2018. It’s Legal and Rewarding With the increased interest in fantasy sports, pay to play is gaining popularity, with winnings coming in the form of real money. Being a game of skill, players can enjoy playing this game online and win real cash as well. Fans today focus on deeper insights and statistics. Understanding the game inside out helps them make a calculated decision and win big cash prizes as well. Fantasy games are today’s new wave in online gaming and are all set to grow as one of the prime forms of entertainment in the next  five years. (This article has been contributed by My11Circle business head Saroj Panigrahi and doesn’t necessarily subscribe to these views)