Kerala: Online Fantasy Sports (OFS), a digital sports fan engagement platform, supports the growth and consumption of sports by actively connecting fans with the sport they enjoy and love. The online fantasy sports market comprises over 10 Crore users. Multiple reports and researches have substantiated that fan engagement through online fantasy sports platforms directly impacts sports viewership, thereby supporting sports growth. Online fantasy sports matches are available for over 11 types of team sports in India, namely, cricket, football, basketball, kabaddi, hockey, baseball, etc.
According to a user survey report published by the Koan Advisory Group in January 2021, over 67% of users find OFS as a unique way of engaging with sports, and 70% of them felt motivated to explore new sports, leagues, and players. Recent research by Kantar-IFSG (now FIFS) shows that 60% of OFS users watch/follow sports more than before because of fantasy sports. Because of their interest, 59% have started watching new types of sports, and 48% of users now watch every game irrespective of a team or country. Additionally, as per a 2019 report by KPMG-IFSG, 74% of users play fantasy sports 1-3 times a week and around 20% play more than five times a week, which indicates the growing traction of the genre in the country.
Increasingly, leading sports bodies and leagues, both domestic and international, are actively partnering with fantasy sports platforms to drive fan engagement. With the emergence of OFS, sports fans today have the opportunity to enjoy an immersive experience with their favorite sports leagues and tournaments. The format of fantasy sports requires users to create their own virtual teams based on their sports knowledge and skill, with no stimulation whatsoever. When sports fans participate in fantasy sports, they tend to watch more sports matches across categories to track the players they picked in their fantasy sports team/s, which makes their experience far more interactive than before and grows the entire sports ecosystem.
The most popular format of OFS is the ‘Freemium’ model. Users can either opt for the ‘free-to-play’ or ‘pay-to-play’ format. As per the IndiaTech report ‘Online Fantasy Sports: Adding Value to the Indian Sporting Ecosystem’, 80% of OFS users prefer to participate in the free-to-play format. The statistics further demonstrate that 99.60% of users who participate in fantasy sports have either won or lost less than INR 10,000/- net on an OFSP in their lifetime. Based on the data collected by IndiaTech, the average contest entry-amount narrows down to INR 35, which can also be considered as low as the cost of a snack.
Furthermore, studies conducted by professors from reputed Indian and global academic institutions such as IIM – Bangalore, MIT, and Columbia University has statistically proven that OFS is a game of skill. The MIT & Columbia report further states that OFS team selection requires higher skills than mutual fund management.
Apart from promoting both online and offline sports, the US$6 Billion Indian OFS industry also generates significant economic impact. OFS will contribute Rs.1,500 Crore by way of taxes in FY21, which is expected to grow to Rs.10,000 Crore in the next 3 years. In the coming few years, it also has the potential to attract FDI of more than Rs 10,000 crore and generate additional 12,000 direct and indirect jobs. It is also a perfect example of a homegrown industry driven by Indian entrepreneurs for Indian sports fans, underscoring the importance of building an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.