Fantasy Cricket In India: New Innings For The Cricket Fans
It is no surprise that cricket is India’s national sport. This is why it has made a move into the virtual realm, in the form of fantasy sports gaming. The concept of fantasy games was first introduced in India by ESPN Super Selector, which was played cricket. However, the popularity of the game is now due to increasing smartphone penetration and affordable mobile data.
It’s simple enough. Gamers create their fantasy team by going online and choosing their favorite sport. The performance of the players chosen by the contestant into the virtual team will determine whether he/she wins or loses. There is more. Fantasy games are more than just games of chance or ludo. To make smart strategic decisions, one must have a deep understanding of the game as well as an analytical mind. Even better, your research, knowledge, and skills can easily be monetized, resulting in increased fan engagement.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the best fantasy app in India has seen significant growth. From 10 fantasy sports operators in 2016, to 140+ in 2019, the number has risen significantly. The number of users will reach 100 million by 2020, according to estimates.
A study by International Cricket Council (ICC) found that Cricket has more than 1 Bn worldwide fans, with India accounting for over 90 percent. Because cricket has a strong fanbase, it is easy to see why the best fantasy cricket app has such high coverage on fantasy gaming platforms, contests, transactions, and other activities.
KPMG conducted a survey in January 2020 and found that 77% of respondents who played fantasy sports over the past year engaged in cricket contests, while Kabaddi (9%) and Football (47%), were second and third, respectively, in terms of popularity.
The Contest Entry Amount (CEA), which is a split of the contest entry amounts across different sports, has changed due to user preferences and the expansion of coverage by fantasy sports operators. While Cricket is still the dominant sport, its share has declined from 95% to 85% in 2016 to 85% for 2019. Despite this, the actual contribution of CEA cricket is increasing.
Fantasy Platforms Riding IPL 2020 Wave
The 2020 Indian Premier League broke its viewership records by registering a 28% increase in viewers compared to IPL 2019. This is according to BARC Nielson. It shows that live events can engage audiences in new ways in this pandemic. Similar fan engagement and activity were observed on fantasy sports platforms during IPL 2020. The tournament was sponsored by Dream11 so all eyes were on the fantasy market.
Fantasy Cricket to Remain the Leader?
India has been a cricket-centric country for nearly a century. The core formats of Test Matches and ODI have received strong viewership. However, the introduction of T20 and IPL (Indian Premier League), in 2008, changed the landscape of Indian sports leagues.
Other sports authorities have also launched leagues such as Pro Kabaddi and Indian Super League (ISL), similar to the IPL. This was done following the location-based franchisee model that altered the Indian audience’s affiliations with teams and viewership patterns of sports leagues.
The increased participation of international athletes has led to celebrity endorsements and sponsorships. This has made fantasy sports platforms more successful in ensuring that their users are engaged throughout the year with sporting events.
To overcome the seasonality problem that can arise from being dependent on one sport, fantasy sports platforms have begun to focus on non-cricket games. It’s not just the cricket season that keeps fantasy sports users on the platforms but also sports like Football, particularly the internationally popular leagues, which ensure consistent revenue streams throughout the year.
“Cricket is the core of fantasy sports. However, with growing interest from Indians in other sports, it is expected that the future will see the evolution of other fantasy sports like Football, Basketball, Kabaddi etc.” Suraj Chokani (Founder of 11Wickets) said.
KPMG’s survey found that only one sport is popular among Basketball and Football fans, while Cricket fans are very open to trying new sports. With the development of fantasy sports, Fantasy Cricket will be able to ride the Indian growth wave.