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GUEST COLUMN: The future of Fantasy Sports Market in India

Over 20 million people are believed to be playing fantasy games in India

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Mumbai: India has been a sports-loving nation. With Cricket, Football, and Kabaddi as the most sought-after sports, we’ve got thousands across the country who’d swear on their love for a good game. This has been one of the reasons for the emergence of fantasy sports in India. It gives the sports enthusiasts a chance to draft their teams with the best of players.

Going to a sports match or sitting glued to the TV is something that every sports enthusiast in the country has done. Moreover, every fan has a set of opinions or expertise in the game. That’s where Fantasy Sports steps in. It gives the users the excitement of real-time action, a first-hand thrill of participating in future tournaments, and cash rewards if they win.

With the increasing popularity of fantasy gaming leagues and frequent contests, fantasy sports enthusiasts are growing by the day. The number of fans capitalising on their sports knowledge has gone up 25X in the last ten years, and more potential players are waiting to join the trend.

Along with a massive craze for sports, digitalisation is another factor that resulted in the emergence of fantasy sports platforms. More tech-savvy millennials in India are participating in fantasy sports tournaments. In fact, the past decade has witnessed a growth of around 700 per cent in the fantasy sports market.

The online fantasy gaming platforms have allowed a massive chunk of sports aficionados to use their understanding of the game and play their role in online fantasy sports events. While the Cricket-frenzy in the Indian audience is well known, these platforms allow the users to explore other segments. With the introduction of new-age strategies in Fantasy Cricket, most platforms have seen a massive engagement of enthusiasts, with them becoming a part of the Indian T20 League and other tournaments. These platforms have started catering to a large audience, and are now expanding their offerings to league sports, even for Football, Kabaddi, and Basketball. Establishing a link between technology and the sports ecosystem, users can now be a part of multiple sporting events. The shift has been received well by sports enthusiasts increasing engagement in real-time sports that need attention.

Currently, over 20 million people play fantasy games in India, and the number is estimated to reach 150 million by 2022. With so many people turning to fantasy sports, the market segment is expected to accelerate in the coming years. One of the reasons for the massive participation is the user-friendly fantasy gaming applications and increased internet penetration across the country. Besides gaining traction amongst the community keen on sports, the sector has seen large revenue growths too. In 2020, the industry generated a revenue of $3.4 million. In fact, the fantasy sports segment is estimated to reach $ 3.7 billion by the year 2024.

With the potential of growth, fantasy sports platforms in India follow specific guidelines and principles as a part of the ‘game of skill’ category. It involves strategy, understanding, expertise, and knowledge by the participants. As a rapidly growing tech-driven industry, the market segment attracts a substantial number of investors. A report by NITI Aayog approximates that the fantasy sports industry has the potential to attract FDI of more than Rs 10,000 crore over the next few years.

The sports ecosystem has seen a massive shift with the ongoing digitisation. The increase in the use of smartphones has enabled most sports enthusiasts to enjoy the thrill and excitement of sporting tournaments with fantasy sports. While increasing the knowledge of multiple sporting events, fantasy gaming platforms have witnessed a hiked participation in fantasy sports leagues and contests related to Cricket, Football, and Kabaddi, to name a few.

Besides this, with a massive population of sports enthusiasts, surging demand in fantasy sports, and ever-evolving advancements in technology, India is set to grow rapidly in the online fantasy sports segment.

(Amit Purohit is the founder of Fantasy Akhada. The views expressed in the column are personal and Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to them.)

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