THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS VOICES ANAND NEELAKANTAN DAMYANTI BISWAS RAVI SHANKAR GAUTAM CHINTAMANI NEIL MCCALLUM MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI MAGAZINE BUFFET PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT AUGUST 30 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 What’s Fantasy Sports? It is a research-based online game where participants create their own imaginary teams made up of real players from different teams, who are scheduled to play in a league or a match. They win or lose based on the real performance of the players in their fantasy team. Game On! A new form of sport is booming in India with player base expected to touch 10 crores by the year-end. As the Indian Premier League is set to start next month, floodlights are back on the nascent virtual gaming industry in the country. The Indian Gamer A 2019 KMPG and IFSG report outlined the key categories of sports gaming in India, with a focus on understanding the fantasy sports consumer. These were some of its findings. Nearly 75% 85% of respondents of all respondents played fantasy played fantasy games sports one to on mobile apps three times a week, with the majority engaging in it once a week. A played for free; 46 significant 20 percent reported percent have played paid contests at least playing more than five times a once in the last 12 months week. 54% By SNEHA MAHALE W hen Mumbai Indians were crowned champions of the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Karthik Sinha was elated. It had nothing to do with healthy inter-city rivalry Nor was he a Rohit Sharma fan. The . 22-year-old Bengaluru college student and his friends had just finished playing an exciting season of IPL Fantasy Every catch dropped, every misfield or shot . hit on the field had impacted their earnings. “It was our first season. We’d watch the matches, pick players based on form and debate constantly on replacements. It was a thrilling experience. We were the owners of our virtual team. Every decision we made benefited the team or cost us,” he says. Sinha is a new entrant to the world of fantasy sports. And he is among the millions in India who get hooked on it. With the IPL set to begin on September 19 in the UAE and fantasy sports startup Dream11 winning the title sponsorship rights of the event this year, this arena has sparked renewed excitement among the gamers. 71% The playing frequency was fairly consistent across the age groups of 18-24 and 25-36 with nearly 75-80 percent of the respondents playing one to three times a week. Nearly 50 percent in the 37-50 age group reported playing fantasy games more than four times a week. 72% of the respondents considered ‘fun and excitement’ as the primary motivator for engaging in fantasy sports platforms of the respondents played Fantasy Cricket and 54 percent Fantasy Football. Other sports such as kabaddi, basketball and hockey were less popular among the respondents. A 2019 report published by KPMG and the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) estimates that the user base of fantasy gaming platforms crossed 70 million Indians in 2018. That’s not all. Participants in the still-growing sport spent around $1.73 billion in 2017. “Fantasy sports is a research-based online sports engagement platform where fans can actively participate in sports they love by creating their own virtual teams made up of real-life players. It has been played worldwide for 60-plus years, but was an alien concept for the Indian sports market till some time ago,” says John Loffhagen, Chairman, Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS). When asked to recall the names of platforms that came to the respondents’ mind, 60 percent referred to Dream11, followed by official websites of Premier League Football/ English Premier League (EPL) and the IPL HOW IT ALL BEGAN The first fantasy sports league dates back to the 1960s. Wilfred ‘Bill’ Winkenbach, a co-owner of the Oakland Raiders, created the first fantasy football league in the US and called it the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL). Over time, as word spread about the new game, similar leagues came up for baseball and hockey. The internet boom of the 1990s helped this hobby go mainstream. Its growing popularity resulted in a boom of websites and apps, and 24/7 channels dedicated to fantasy sports were launched. By 2016, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (an organisation representing the interests of fantasy sports and gaming companies), the segment was a $7.22 billion industry with 59.3 million players in the US and Canada alone. In India, the first fantasy cricket experience came through Super Selector. ESPN Star Sports ran it in 2001. But it could not take off as it was way ahead of its time. “Online fantasy sports saw massive adoption from the early 2010s with the availability of smartphones and high-speed internet. Dream11, India’s first online fantasy sports platform, successfully launched its ‘freemium model’ in 2012,” says Loffhagen. Turn to page 2
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