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Ronnie Screwvala to launch UCypher, an eSports league in India

The league is expected to launch in March, followed by a linear television broadcast in May. The pilot season will begin with six teams and intends to have 10 teams later

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | January 20, 2017

Ronnie Screwvala Ronnie Screwvala

Ronnie Screwvala, founder of UTV and an entrepreneur of multiple companies in the media and entertainment industry, is set to launch an electronic sports (eSports) League – UCypher -- in India in March. Having seen potential for this in India, Screwvala decided to launch this after a year of research on eSports and gaming in India. The full format of the league is expected to go live as soon as March and will be broadcast in May on linear television.

eSports will be a PC, console and mobile games league. The first season of the league will have six teams and will be a pilot season lasting anywhere between 45 and 60 days, while it intends to have 10 teams going forward for the same duration. An approximate of Rs 80-100 crore will be the initial investment. There are no investors on board as of now.

Supratik Sen, CEO, USports says that the journey began with an on-ground activation and it got a lot of traction as a lot of teams were involved in it. Sen said, “It was the right time for us to launch it in India as it was gaining popularity. We’ve worked with a lot of athletes for this. There is deep enough number that exists in the PC gaming space. The number is far more in mobile and smaller in console.”

USports is already in talks with two youth channels to air the linear television format of the league. Sen is looking at a 10pm–12 am time slot for the same. But they are yet to decide on the total programming hours as it will be based on how much content the league produces when it is launched in March. They are also in talks with a couple of sponsors for the same. USports is looking at showcasing the content on digital platforms.

The last 12-18 months have witnessed bandwidths grow better, which is a boom for the gaming industry. The way people play has changed with the advent of VR and the expansion is far greater. Sen added, “Primarily, we’d say that there is a larger audience that wants to see it.” Counter Strike and Dota will be a part of the PC gaming league while they haven’t decided the games for mobile and console gaming.

Asked about the target audience for the gaming league, Sen said that for mobile and PC it is mostly in the age group of 9-12 year olds. For console it is 16-25 years.

eSports is relatively new to the Indian market. It is huge in markets like US, China, Korea, Japan and many European countries. According to reports, the world’s eSports industry is expected to grow from $493 million in 2016 to $1.1 billion in 2019.

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