Increased viewership and higher sports fan engagement is positively supporting sporting ecosystem.80% of the online fantasy sports (OFS) users prefer participating in the ‘free-to-play’ format, according to a report by IndiaTech.Org (TSIA). Titled, ‘Online Fantasy Sports: Adding Value to the Indian Sporting Ecosystem’, the report also highlighted how 98% of the 20% who ‘pay-to-play’, have either won or lost less than Rs 10,000 net in their lifetime (past 3 to 4 years). The report brings to light the playing pattern of OFS users, the current regulatory landscape, misplaced perceptions plaguing the industry and the positive impact of the industry on Indian sports and the overall economy.
In the last few years, fantasy sports has certainly become a potential sector that has performed exceptionally well and boosted the consumption of sports in India, Rameesh Kailasam, CEO, IndiaTech, said. “As a legally approved format of sports fan engagement, the industry is self-regulating to protect the users and operators through FIFS. There are multiple perception issues the industry has to overcome to reach its full potential as a non-addictive and skill-based platform,” he added.
The report aims to bring into limelight the fact that fantasy sports are a competitive digital sports engagement platform and clearly not in the nature of addiction. The average ticket size of the participation in the pay-to-play format is usually as low as Rs 35 (typically the cost of a snack). It is explicit that Fantasy sports are unlike all forms of online games that do not need a real-life player to be actually playing a real sports match to decide the outcome for the participant. The very fact that it is dependent on actualities, seasonality and availability of real-time sports matches makes it a non-addictive form of play which sets it distinctly apart from online games that are commonly perceived to be in the nature of gambling and/or betting.
The format of fantasy sports ensures that sports enthusiasts follow the game more keenly and this directly results in increased focus and attention towards sports. This contributes to an increased viewership and higher sports fan engagement that naturally contributes to more qualitative investments, up-gradation and packaging of these sports making them more viable and remunerative to the players of that sport.
Fantasy Sports as a sector is represented by Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), a self-regulatory body incepted in 2017. FIFS has a defined Charter which outlines a framework within which the industry must function. Self-regulation has so far proven adequate for the industry and the focus shall be towards ensuring that the effectiveness of self-regulation continues with government recognition, as more players add to the ecosystem.