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‘Fantasy Sports is single biggest fan engagement tool for sports leagues’: Joy Bhattacharjya

Joy Bhattacharjya, director general, Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports and Amit Purohit, CEO and founder, Fantasy Akhada engaged in a deep discussion on how fantasy sports enhances sporting experience at the FICCI Turf 2022 on Saturday. They highlighted the overall positive outlook of the central government towards the fantasy sports industry, and also addressed the need for sports leagues to further leverage fantasy sports (FS) platforms to drive and increase fan engagement.

Bhattacharjya described how fantasy sports is pushing the fan engagement and explained the concept of second screens in detail. “The phenomenon that has changed fantasy sports is the use of second screens. Sports fans while watching matches on TV, are checking match statistics, or seeing how their teams are performing or even engaging in friendly banter with other fantasy sports users. Fantasy sports uses a second screen to push the engagement even harder,” he said.

With fantasy sports operators bringing in more fans and a larger engagement to the product, they are natural allies for sports leagues. Hence, national and international sports leagues and tournaments like IPL, PKL, ICC, NBA, CPL, Super Smash etc. have partnered with fantasy sports operators for deepening engagement, viewership and building a closer connection with their fan base. Bhattacharjya stressed that the leagues can do more than just bringing on FS platforms as fantasy partners.

“In 2019, when we did the first Volleyball League, we had a fantasy partner. We started off with 2000 people playing on the first day. On Day 17, we had 85,000 people playing FS and by the final day, we reached 185,000 people. These numbers were organic because we did not push our fantasy sports partner hard enough. We realised that once you give people a product they can engage with, there is a huge opportunity,” Bhattacharjya said.

“The Indian leagues have some way to go before they can integrate with FS at the level of International leagues,” he added.

Purohit also addressed the need to supply FS consumers with ample information and statistics to improve their experiences. He pointed out that a fan creating a team for an England vs New Zealand cricket match may not find enough information on an Indian broadcasting channel, as the analysts are often discussing the upcoming India cricket match. “Today, even if you search for statistics for any league, you may not find it. You may find information on Virat Kohli’s last five years’ performance, but you will not find enough information at the granular level for all the leagues,” Mr. Purohit said.

“We cannot say that people are using FS for instant gratification. We, as an ecosystem, do not provide enough inputs for them to make well-informed decisions. People are craving for statistics, they want to improve their skills, we are yet to do enough to provide that platform. The fan who is playing Fantasy Sports is hungry for information to improve their skills, so there is a gap which needs to be filled,” he added.

Bhattacharjya and Purohit also spoke on the recent positive steps from the government and what it might mean for FS in India in the coming years.

“Recently, Google has allowed Fantasy Sports on the Play Store. It means a far bigger opportunity to reach a larger set of audience. We, at FIFS, have always been supportive of bringing uniform regulations so that we can strengthen the industry, protect consumer’s interests and work in accordance with the prescribed set of uniform laws and guidelines,” Mr. Joy Bhattacharjya said, as his closing remarks.

“I believe Fantasy Sports will have a space for itself in conversations not just in drawing rooms, but also in boardrooms of the right people, which are the associations, federations and broadcasters. People have already started noticing, and it is only going to increase going forward,” Purohit added.

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