The top boss of the popular fantasy gaming platform spoke exclusively to Khel Now on the sidelines of Game Plan 2018.
Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) held its flagship event “Game Plan 2018” last month. The event marked the launch of the first ever report on “The Laws Relating to Fantasy Sports Games in India.”
The Chairman of IFSG as well as the Co-Founder and CEO of the gaming platform Dream11 Harsh Jain spoke exclusively to Khel Now about the growing popularity of fantasy gaming and challenges faced by Dream11 while starting in a reletively nascent sphere in the Indian sports matrket.
The avid fantasy gamer differentiated the Premier League’s official fantasy game from that on Dream11’s football platform by saying, “Actually, the EPL fantasy game offers the season-long fantasy format, that’s the most popular one with about four million players. We offer single-match fantasy sports. So, what we have seen is that consumers want lower commitment. They want instant gratification,” he remarked. “They don’t have that much of an attention span. So, single-match fantasy allows each match to be treated like the season and that’s the difference.”
The main aim of Dream11 has always been to make sports consumption more active. Elaborating on this Jain said, “You know what we do when we watch sports. There are 700-800m people watching sports on TV today in India. All of them just watch it or they follow it or they go online and read about it, follow the scores, commentary and so on. But, they don’t have any active participation. So, when you actually have your own team then obviously you are following those players and you care about it,” he explained
The CEO also shed light on their plans to provide comprehensive data which will help the consumer to be a more intelligent and informed player of fantasy games. “I do know that we are planning on putting up a lot more data, statistics and content on the site to help the user make more intelligent decision on choosing their teams.”
“So, what happens is that today there is a dearth of statistics and deep data analysis on picking players. We want to make these kinds of data pieces much more accessible to the user so that he can make more intelligent choices.”
Football has grown extensively in India in the last few years. The advent of the Indian Super League (ISL) has been is one of the prime reasons for this. Dream11 is the first and only platform to offer an ISL fantasy game. Speaking about the growth of football and the ISL in recent years Jain remarked, “The ISL is a new property in India over the last few years and it’s building up. Football itself is building up today.”
“The youth in tier 1 cities are actually much more ardent fans of football than cricket.,so that will take time to build up. But, we see a good 10-20% activation of cricket fans. When the ISL starts they also start playing fantasy football.”
“The entire Indian sports market has been growing leaps and bounds. I think when we started Dream11 in 2012 cricket was all we offered because it’s all that mattered. Now you have the ISL, PKL (Pro Kabaddi League) and all the sports being covered with leagues, they are being broadcast.”
“So, today we actually see even on Dream11, cricket has come down from 100% of our user base to 85% and we estimate that over the next five years it will reach 70%. We are still going to be a cricket-loving nation, but 30% of the sports consumption we believe will be non-cricket.”
The story behind Dream 11: CEO and Co-founder Harsh Jain (Courtesy: Super)
Fantasy gaming has always been a difficult thing to gel with Indian sports consumption. However, platforms like Dream11 has made this process more easier. Sharing his thoughts on the challenges still remaining in the path of fantasy gaming in India he said,” I think there are very few challenges as long as we run fantasy sports legitimately.”
Sports consumption in India is very different as compared to other countries. The journey of fantasy gaming in India has not been easy. Jain spoke of the things one must keep in mind before entering this sphere. “I think something that we have to bear in mind is that people in India don’t like to put money in and they want to play something for free. They want something engaging and something quick and have less attention span.:
In a country where gambling or betting is strictly prohibited, to launch an industry which resembles it but actually has completely different features is not easy. To make investors understand this is a tough job and Dream11 has done this beautifully.
Conveying a message to stakeholders such as the government and regulators Jain said, “I think the message we like to give is that this is a new industry. This is an industry that will increase the digital skills in the country, that can attract a great deal of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), that can create jobs, that can grow sports engagement to a large degree and of course contribute to the economy with taxes as well.”
Dream11 has changed the sphere of fantasy gaming in India dramatically. “I think after our launch we were the only ones running the industry. We were the only ones in the industry and today we have 56 other companies like us, six years after we started. I will say that’s the biggest way in which things have changed,” he reflected.