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Guest Column| Fantasy cricket gets big with the IPL fever

Online fantasy sports are big in India today, almost crossing $1 billion markets. With the IPL already started and the World Cup just a few months away, fantasy cricket is all set to become big this year.  The cricket frenzy can be felt in the air with the Indian Premier League 2019 just kicked off. It looks like a high octane and fully action-packed season with fans not only watching and enjoying the sports on television but also closely monitoring the game on their mobile phones.

The rising trend of fantasy cricket has moved our cricket loving nation from being mere spectators to active participants who use their cricket knowledge to plan and form their winning teams. As per the latest KPMG report, over 71 per cent cricket lovers, today enjoy fantasy cricket on their devices. Yes, the next big name in esports is fantasy cricket, allowing users to create their own fantasy cricket teams based on the players participating in the games. At this point in time, it would be IPL 2019.

What makes it so exciting?

There are two things that make fantasy cricket so exciting. First, the user becomes a part of the game where his expert knowledge on the sport can make him a winner amongst thousands of users. This entertainment and engagement factor contributes to over 20 per cent of users who joins esports. The second aspect that makes the game further thrilling and contributes over 30 per cent is that a user can participate in the fantasy leagues and win cash as well. All he has to do is play it right.

The user earns points as per the performance of cricket players on the field and at the end of the match, these points are used to determine the final performance compared to the other players who participated in the fantasy league.

A market full of opportunities

According to the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG), the user base of fantasy sports in India is expected to touch 100 million by 2020. Around 74 per cent of these users enjoy fantasy sports around 1-three times a week. The ‘ability to manage teams virtually’ and ‘remain connected to the sport’ contributes to over five per cent of the user base.

Now let’s put this picture with the IPL craze. Last year, IPL clocked over 700 million viewers in India out of which 200 million came from digital modes like Hotstar. IPL has a pull over the masses and the consumption of the sports is not limited to television alone. Users are on social media discussing the game, on cricketing sites going through live commentary and on fantasy cricket applications actively participating.

With factors like the popularity of cricket and rising internet penetration, this year in IPL 2019 we can see the digital penetration crossing over 300 million viewers. Taking this engagement to the next level is the fantasy cricket applications. Users connect with the game and make predictions for the winning team. What we expect to see this year on fantasy cricket apps like My11Circle is significant engagement with the game and a large volume of registrations.

With exciting and innovative competition formats and the ability to showcase cricket knowledge and skill along with competing with real players, has made fantasy cricket as the preferred medium to enjoy IPL and cricket.

Connecting with the Fans

Fantasy cricket is consumed by fans across metros and non-metro cities alike. Even though it is perceived that you need to add cash to play these games, the reality is 54 per cent of fantasy players, enjoy the game for free. Around 46 per cent of users have played cash games minimum once in a year. The interesting thing to note here is that only around 25 to 30 per cent of the spends on a fantasy sports platform come from a user’s pocket. 70 to 75 per cent of the spends are re-investments that came from previous winnings, cash bonus or periodical promotions given on these platforms.

Cricket is a sport that brings the nation together. Users who consume fantasy sports, double their overall sports appetite. With IPL, top fantasy cricket brands are all set to offer users a new and more engaging way to enjoy the game. What we expect to see with IPL 2019 is definitely a large viewership but also an equally big number of fantasy cricket players.

This article has been contributed by My11Circle business head Saroj Panigrahi and doesn’t necessarily subscribe to these views

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