Fantasy gamers' e-spends may hit $1 billion
The online fantasy gaming market is set to explode with the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), with industry players and analysts expecting fans to spend $1-1.5 billion (Rs 7,000-10,000 crore) to predict the performance of players.

Platforms like Dream11, My11Circle and HalaPlay – besides more recent entrants like Paytm and Mobile Premier League (MPL) – are competing to attract users as cricket makes a comeback after over six months.

What is expected to drive growth is the pent-up demand among consumers locked up at home and deprived of entertainment like movies and live sports ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started in March. This, along with hundreds of crores in marketing expenditure by fantasy gaming platforms, including market leader Dream11 winning the title sponsorship of IPL for Rs 222 crore last month, is expected to further increase interest in the market. The number of consumers on fantasy sports platforms, where cricket accounts for over 80% of the action, is projected to grow from 90 million to 120-150 million, according to industry players. Dream11 expects its total user base to increase from about 82 million to at least 100 million.

“Sitting at home, consumers don’t have a lot do. We can see what is happening in the stock markets in India with increasing retail trading on platforms like Zerodha. That is the same manifestation expected in fantasy sports,” said Manish Agarwal, CEO of Nazara Games, which has backed fantasy platform HalaPlay.

The fantasy gaming market saw 167% growth in the contest entry amount (CEA) to Rs 16,500 crore in FY20, according to a report by industry body FIFS with KPMG, on the back of World Cup and IPL last year. Companies typically make 10-20% of the CEA amount as revenues when a player withdraws the winnings from the platform. With the onset of Covid-19, most of the April-June quarter has been a washout for the industry.

Last year, fans spent Rs 4,000-5,000 crore ($550-700 million) contesting on fantasy gaming platforms during IPL, according to estimates. “IPL for fantasy gaming platforms is like Diwali for retail. It is 40-50%,” said Sudhanshu Gupta, COO of Paytm First Games.

Paytm First recently got Sachin Tendulkar as a brand ambassador. Dream11 has Mahendra Singh Dhoni, MPL has Virat Kohli and My11Circle has Saurav Ganguly.

“We are expecting to grow 100% (in terms of users) during this IPL… I would say a 9X increase in contest entry amount,” said Bhavin Pandya, co-founder & CEO of Games24x7, which owns My11Circle.





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