How the fantasy leagues, and not legalized sports betting, are the future of digital fans engagement
Since this years’ IPL, a Mumbai-based sports platform is making waves in the country’s digital sports platform. Fans, who were until now had their gazes strictly fixed on the television screens, have suddenly started to split their attention to between their mobile and LED screens.
Dream11 recently managed to raise $100 million from a Chinese company Tencent. That round of financing takes the company’s valuation of over $800 million. Many are touting the startup to be the next big thing after Paytm and Flipkart from India. In another sign of a growing prominence of the fantasy sports department in the country, Dream 11 signed a 5-year contract with ICC to become its official Fantasy game partner.
D11 was started by two childhood friends Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain. The inspiration for the company came in 2008 when the eventual co-founders saw the lack of online opportunities for a newly launched Indian Premier League as a big opportunity to fill in. The diehard sports fans and engineers they thus started the sports fantasy league in 2009.
The two initially experimented with various formats on Dream11 before finding the right fit in the form of freemium single-match fantasy sports in 2012.
Over the years that followed, D11 transmuted itself into arguably India’s biggest sports gaming platform. However, as many private leagues sprouted up after 2008, the company covers multiple sports such as fantasy cricket, football, kabaddi, and basketball.
Even though the company may not be profitable today, it has already recorded a revenue of Rs. 100 crores.
The Legal Angle
There was a thin line between the business that Dream 11 plied their trade in and betting. After all, both betting and fantasy cricket leagues involve a certain degree of luck and the fact that money is involved in both the processes.
However, even though there is a luck factor involved, the fantasy games require a substantial amount of research and experience to be successful, unlike betting and gambling, where the events proceed purely on random events.
In 2017, a person named Varun Gumber filed a petition in the Punjab High Court against Dream 11 under the Public Gambling Act, 1867 for promoting gambling. The company’s entire future depended on the decision.
However, the High Court, in a landmark judgement, ruled that Dream 11 was indeed a “Game of Skill”.
The Fantasy Leagues Framework
Fantasy leagues involve people to leverage their knowledge about the sports into financial gain – a premise that is alone enough to attract the masses.
The games, like most of the social networking platforms, also works on the principle of instant gratification. Imagine this, for example, You are a moderate cricket fan and are playing one of the fantasy cricket league games on one of your sports-crazy friend’s recommendation. You invest a minimum amount and start to play the game by setting your team. Once the first over ends and you win, your interest in the game is instantly elevated and you suddenly feel you could earn more profits. As a result, you ultimately fall into the vicious trap of cue-reward-gratification, a cycle that keeps you hooked on until the match ends.
Now consider an opposite scenario. You lose in your over. Naturally, even though you may slightly dislike the format, you would want to at least recover your lost amount. Thus, since it is not as expensive, you would again invest a minimal amount in the game. Now the game is so designed that you would win some or the other reward at some point in time. Once you win, you are thereafter thrust in the cue-reward-gratification cycle.
Want more? The fantasy cricket, or any league for that matter, offer the fans to be team owners, a big deal for those diehard sports fans. Plus, they give the winners bragging rights on social media, another clever strategy by the league makers of spreading the word and create a buzz on social media. Another addition is the facility of competing with your friends.
All of these things make sports fantasy leagues a very addictive and too good to ignore.