Evolution of fantasy sports in India – a short timeline

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Fantasy sports have made a tremendous business in India and across the globe over the years. This format allows fans to assemble virtual teams of real sports and sometimes earn money. Even though it is assumed that the trend of fantasy sports has blossomed in India in the last 4-5 years, the foundation was laid way back in early 2000s

In India, way back in 2001 ESPN-Star Sports launched its one of a kind game named the ‘Super Selector fantasy game’ which went on to gain a lot of traction as the time progressed. The format of the game involved people to register their teams for free with the duration of the contest ranging according to a specific series. Incidentally, the person behind this idea is now the Director General of the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports. 

In the first decade of this century, internet and launch of new leagues like IPL encouraged young entrepreneurs to launch platforms like Dream11.  Now one can play fantasy sports of tournaments like Premier League, UEFA Champions League, ICC events, IPL. The Online Fantasy Sports Gaming (OFSG) witnessed a phenomenal growth in India in the last couple of years, thanks to Jio led data revolution in the country.

According to estimated reports, the number of fantasy sports operators saw an increase by seven times in 2016-2018 whereas, the overall number of users grew by over a whopping 25 times between 2016 to 2019. The best thing that makes the fantasy sporting platforms friendly to the users is that they come with two options- single match ‘Free to Play’ or ‘Pay to Play’ model.

These virtual gaming platforms encourage a participant to create a team of their choice consisting of a particular set of players. These teams gather points on the basis of the actual statistical performance of the players during the course of a particular match and winners are determined accordingly. It is to be noted that a set number of players are fixed for a particular sport i.e. 11 in cricket and football, seven in kabaddi, five in basketball, etc. Meanwhile, the most important rule here is that there is no scope for team changes once the match kicks off. The format was also upheld as the game of skill by the Supreme Court.

While there are many players in the fantasy sports with the trend catching up on a daily basis, two of them have not only gone to become renowned names in this industry but also enjoy a lion’s share of success in the market. They are Dream11 and MyTeam11. Both these platforms are now valued at upper side of US$ 1 billion. 

Both the online gaming platforms are the official fantasy game partners of several high-profile global sporting events like the International Cricket Council (ICC) events, the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pakistan Super League (PSL), Big Bash League (BBL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Pro Volleyball League (PVL), International Hockey Federation (FIH), Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), Indian Super League (ISL), etc.

Nonetheless, it has been estimated that it is Dream11 that enjoys a monopoly in the fantasy sports gaming sector with 90% of the market share with its other competitors enjoying just a 10% share.