The online gaming industry has seen tremendous growth in the last few years. According to experts at Deloitte, the industry recorded a revenue of INR 65 billion in FY19. It is expected to grow at a 43% CAGR year on year. This exponential growth in revenue is thanks to the tenfold increase in the number of gamers from back in 2010. The total number of gamers in India is estimated to be around 300 million today and the figure is steadily growing day by day. A key part of the online gaming industry is the online fantasy sports industry.
The online fantasy sports (OFS) industry, especially fantasy cricket, is one of the biggest contributors to the online gaming industry of India in terms of both revenue and user base. According to a FIFS-KPMG report, the revenue of the online fantasy sports industry stood at INR 9.2 billion in FY2019. There have been foreign investments close to INR 15 billion, which will only grow further in the future. The OFS industry reported a user base of 90 million users in 2019, which is 30% of the total number of gamers in India.
The growing fantasy sports industry has aided and nurtured many other industries in India from online payments to sports media. The sports media industry in particular has seen fantastic growth due to the emergence of the OFS industry. It is growing at a 3% CAGR and is expected to reach INR 97.5 billion by 2024, as reported by Media Partners Asia.
A report by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) explores the connection between the growth of fantasy sports and sports media. Let us take a look at some key highlights from the report, which explains how fantasy sports has helped bolster the revenue of the sports media industry:
- 60% of fantasy sports users claim they now watch and follow sports more than before because of fantasy sports.
- 87% of those who play fantasy sports claim that they now research more and search for more information about sports to be able to make a better strategy in fantasy sports.
- 59% fantasy sports players have started watching new sports because of their interest in fantasy sports.
- 48% fantasy sports players now watch every game irrespective of the teams or countries playing.
- 38% users look up social media updates as sources of information for sports content.
- TV remains the primary means of watching and following various sports, with 51% users claiming they consume sports content for more than 5 hours a week since they started playing fantasy sports.
Content consumption for cricket is way more than for other sports. This is because 85% fantasy sports players play fantasy cricket on fantasy cricket app like Howzat. This change in content consumption habits of fantasy sports players was noted by the sports media industry, which led to a sudden influx of investment in the sports media industry. They are producing newer types of content across a variety of channels now. For example, in the last few years, a lot of sports enthusiasts and influencers have started YouTube channels that publish regular match predictions which help fantasy sports players select their teams for upcoming matches.
Major investments in the sports media industry have been by broadcasters. They are shelling out big money to get the rights to new sports leagues and tournaments. Star Network, Sony Network, etc. have signed deals with major the organizers of leagues and tournaments as they are seeing substantial year-on-year growth in viewership. For example, the viewership of the Indian Premier League on the Star Network rose by 28% this year compared to last year, as reported by BARC.
We have also seen the emergence of a number of online content aggregators like Cricbuzz, Sportskeeda, Fancode, etc. which are providing users with the latest sports statistics, news and more. The content on these websites is updated every single day to keep the users hooked and entertained.
More recently, we have seen a trend of OFS platforms either collaborating with content aggregators or setting up their own sports content platforms. Collaboration has helped OFS platforms and content aggregators share their user bases with each other for marketing. On the other hand, running their own content platforms has helped fantasy sports apps to acquire more users. For example, the popular fantasy sports app Howzat has its own blog where match predictions for upcoming matches are published regularly. Howzat also engages with its audience on multiple platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, etc.
Both the industries have reaped massive benefits of the collective efforts put in by them. We should see stronger collaboration between the two industries in the coming years as that will help them to tap into the huge potential offered by India, a sports-crazy nation.