New Delhi: Online Fantasy Sports Platforms (OFSPs) are a novel tool for engaging sports fans, according to “Building a Sporting Culture in India through Online Fantasy Sports”, a report published today by Koan Advisory Group, a New Delhi based consulting firm. The report is based on findings from an online survey of approximately 7,300 OFSP users from 29 states/UTs across India about their experience of participating in online fantasy sports contests and its impact on their engagement with sports.
OFSPs offer multiple features to ensure user engagement and retention. Over 60 percent of respondents strongly agreed that they are happy with their overall experience of participating in online fantasy sports contests. A large majority among these respondents asserted that OFSPs encourage them to explore new sports, leagues, and players, and made sports consumption more interesting and enjoyable.
To build their teams for fantasy sports contests, users regularly follow player performance statistics from previous real-life matches. Over 70 percent of respondents strongly agreed that checking these statistics and doing relevant research made a significant difference in their fantasy sports experience. This corroborates assertions from various High Courts, including Bombay, Rajasthan, and Haryana & Punjab, along with reports by academic institutions like IIM, MIT & Columbia University that OFSPs are ‘skill-dominant platforms’. The draft guiding principles for OFSPs from the NITI Aayog also introduce measures to ensure business certainty and consumer welfare.
54.94 percent of the survey respondents strongly agreed that their knowledge of sports increased, and a similar share strongly agreed that they began watching new sports after participating in online fantasy sports contests. While cricket continues to drive user engagement with OFSPs, the share of user engagement with other sports such as football, kabaddi, handball, volleyball, and basketball is gradually increasing. Leagues recognize this potential and there are multiple recent examples, including that of America’s National Basketball Association Championships, partnering with OFSPs to provide an engaging viewership experience to their fans.
OFSPs may also help mitigate the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on sports engagement. While ticketing and sponsorship revenues from live events are lower, audience engagement on OFSPs can help maintain the value propositions for sports federations and leagues. The survey reveals that approximately 67 percent of the respondents strongly agreed that watching sports became more interesting and felt that participating in fantasy sports contests is a unique way of engaging with the teams and sports they love. User engagement is not only limited to sports or teams but also extends to interactions with other sports fans through social media. Close to 60 percent of the respondents began actively engaging with like-minded sports fans after participating in online fantasy sports platforms.
Finally, the report notes that OFSPs are evolving into increasingly immersive experiences, and consumers are central to the ecosystem as they generate data and can influence their own and other users’ experiences. OFSP participation cultivates deep sports fan interest in new sports faster than other engagement channels might. The authors, therefore, recommend that consumer perspectives must continue to be at the center of future policy efforts to strengthen sectoral development.
Key findings of the survey:
- 4,708 respondents (64.1 percent) strongly agreed that they are happy with their overall experience of participating in OFSPs. Among these respondents,
- 88 percent of respondents strongly agreed that checking statistics and doing research has been important while participating in OFS
- Over 82 percent strongly agreed that watching sports has become more enjoyable and interesting because of OFS
- 84 percent strongly agreed that they find OFS a unique way of engaging with the teams and sports they love
- 76 percent strongly agreed that they have started actively engaging with other like-minded sports fans because of OFS
- Almost 70 percent strongly agreed that they have started to watch new sports and learn about new players and leagues
- 71 percent strongly agreed that their knowledge and viewing time of sports has increased