With increased penetration of smartphones and cheaper internet rates, digital media has made its mark in Tier 2 and 3 cities. Combined with this is the Indian Premier League (IPL), which has always been a hotbed of activities for brands across categories and fantasy gaming is no different. The fantasy gaming space is going through an unprecedented boom and players are going all out to gain new customers in the 15th edition of the league.
According to a report by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) and Deloitte, India’s fantasy gaming market, which currently stands at Rs 34,000 crore, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 38% to become a Rs 1.65 lakh crore market by 2025.
Paul Rogash- CEO and Founder, EarnU, the Crypto-based fantasy sports platform which has recently entered the Indian market, said, “We plan to spend $ 50,000 - 100,000 during this IPL season with the goal to grow our user base to around 10,000 users.”
Manish Shrivastava, VP - Marketing, MPL, spoke about the mobile gaming tournament, Great Indian Gaming League (GIGL) which was launched on March 24 (two days before the IPL kick-off) and will run till May 29. The total value of the tournament is Rs 2,000 crore and it includes fantasy, casual, gaming as well as esports.
He said, “We are expecting more than 7 million players to participate during this two-month tournament and out of this 7 million, about 3.5 million can potentially be crowned as winners.”
A WinZO spokesperson, during the course of his interaction with BestMediaInfo.com said that 90% of their users are organic, and roughly around 10% are through A&M. The social gaming and interactive entertainment platform claimed it currently engages with 80 million users, is clocking 2.5 billion micro-transactions a month, and aims to hit 100 million users by the end of the 15th edition of IPL.
How big is the IPL for the fantasy gaming category?
The Indian Premier League has eventually turned into an event that attracts advertisers from all walks of lives. Not just that, but brands even keep aside a separate advertising and marketing budget for IPL only to connect with millions of potential users watching the league.
PR Rajendran, Co-Founder and CEO, Next Wave Multimedia (parent company of World Cricket Championship), said that the platform witnesses an estimated 30-40% spike during the IPL season.
Sumit Jha, Founder, Fantasy Akhada, called IPL “the lever for exponential growth across industries and more so for the Fantasy Sports industry.”
The WinZO spokesperson said that IPL guarantees the brands an opportunity of being visible among 550 million users, as the league is watched across the country with a lot of excitement.
Advertising during IPL
With the aim to grab more eyeballs, the brands roll out gripping ad campaigns just ahead of the league. The next step after that is to be present at the right place and at the right time – the media buying part.
PlayerzPot rolled out a campaign ‘Cricket Ka Bhoot’ featuring Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kiku Sharda on the digital broadcasting platform of IPL.
Yadav said, “Our advertising and marketing strategy is simple and clear, with a motive to give an amazing experience to our users on the platform. We are not leaving any scope to miss any opportunity to attract new users on our platform.”
To further promote the campaign, the platform is focusing more on digital mediums and has collaborated with short video sharing platforms such as Moj, MX Taka Tak and Josh.
Another category player, Fantasy Akhada, launched a 360-degree campaign ‘Asli Akhada’ featuring Ali Fazal and Harsha Bhogle.
“The marketing campaign is live on the IPL broadcast and also on all digital platforms. This is our first year of advertising on the IPL, and we will ensure that we keep our value of customer-first intact even with the growth in scale. In line with the campaign, we will continue our regular marketing spends on digital platforms as well as influencers,” Jha said.
WinZO, which onboarded Mahendra Singh Dhoni for their IPL ad campaign ‘Game Badal Do’, also joined hands with ad-man Piyush Pandey. The social gaming and interactive entertainment platform also named Bhuvan Bam and Carry Minati its Digital Brand Ambassadors.
The platform is also working on an outreach initiative, where they will be partnering with 50,000+ micro-influencers who will create relatable content for the platform.
EarnU, on the other hand, is aiming to connect with influencers as part of its core acquisition strategy.
Rogash, while elaborating on their strategy to stand out in a cluttered market, said, "We will collaborate with leading influencers that are actual product ambassadors as well as sponsoring existing IPL communities so they become aware of EarnU and our IPL prediction game.”
EarnU being a crypto-based sports platform has its maximum user base on Telegram, Discord and Twitter, which is why, they will be focusing more on these platforms, Rogash said.
Before shelling out huge sums of money on these ad campaigns, brands do set-up their target returns.
EarnU says it’s difficult to analyse the numbers as of yet. “However, we anticipate a large percentage of our player base will be from India. We feel those customers will remain on the platform for future IPL seasons, Soccer, Kabaddi and esports,” Rogash said.
Fantasy Akhada’s Jha said, “We are looking to double our business metrics (grow by over 100%), including registrations on the back of IPL. Our retention cohorts are top notch in the industry and we will aim to beat our existing benchmarks in retention post-IPL.”
Given the regulations on fantasy gaming platforms in India, advertising for them is a bit challenging. The leaders from various platforms spoke about the challenges involved and their thoughts on the existing rules and regulations put in place by the authorities.
PlayerzPot’s Yadav stated, “We believe that we are in the category which still requires a regulatory framework to bring more discipline and regulations in the system. As a brand in the fantasy gaming industry, if you follow all the basic rules and guidelines to promote the brand, you won't face any challenges in your success journey. The thumb rule is pretty simple - Be clear and crisp!”
To this, EarnU’s Rogash added, “Getting through the clutter (of multiple players and their campaigns) and finding ways to connect to the audience so they become an active user of the platform, rather than just a visitor to the website or a follower on social media.”
Jha of Fantasy Akhada said, “When we started the journey with Fantasy Akhada, there were 100+ existing players and standing out as a force to reckon with has always been a challenge. I think one of the biggest challenges in advertising as a fantasy sports brand is the cluttered market and the constant need to innovate and be visible.”