Fantasy sports have emerged as a booming industry in the recent years in India. Growing at an annual rate of 22.1%, the fantasy sports industry size is expected to reach approximately 1.1 billion dollars by the end of 2023. Although many believe fantasy sports to be an extension of sports betting, which is a 150-billion dollar industry in India at the moment, in reality that is not the case. Fantasy sports are rather an alternative for sports fans to engage in a skill game rather than gambling. In order for fantasy sports to capture the huge sports betting market, it is essential that the industry keeps innovating. Innovation is the first step in expanding the user base and helping Indians shift to a legal skill gaming platform. This has become even more essential after the COVID-19 pandemic since the industry is heavily dependent on live sports for user engagement.
All the fantasy sports applications were geared up for an exciting year ahead as the Indian T20 league was scheduled to start in April. But the pandemic put a halt on all the plans, thereby making each fantasy sports company ponder over their shortcomings and areas of improvement. To counter the immediate drop in the active user base and stop the fall in the revenue, fantasy sports apps ventured into other games like rummy and ludo. Even though these emergency measures have helped in recuperating some of their losses and adding new users, it is not an alternative the fans might have been looking for. In order to keep the fans of fantasy sports loyal, the apps must come up with innovation within the world of fantasy sports as well.
After extensive research, we have identified a few thought starters for the fantasy sports apps that will keep their users engaged and entertained.
- Long-term Engagement Formats: Currently the majority of fantasy sports apps work on the model of engaging users in daily matches. Usually the prize pool, entry fees, etc. of a fantasy sports match are fine-tuned to increase user participation. But fantasy sports apps should take inspiration from the Premier League fantasy sports app from the UK, which has managed to keep its users hooked despite the league being suspended for over two months. This is because the app rewards users who stick through the entire season, from August till May. Indian fantasy sports apps should innovate and come up with long-term engagement models to keep their users hooked. It should not be too difficult considering there are so many different sports leagues/tournaments being played every day.
- Engagement Bursts: One good innovation that was made during the early days of the lockdown was creating engagement bursts through sports quizzes and polls conducted by fantasy sports applications. A few applications like Howzat even offered a fantasy sports experience in the form of Recall Fantasy for matches played in the past. Fantasy sports applications should work on more such innovations and keep them handy for days when there are no live sports available to engage their users. These engagement bursts can also be mixed with the long-term engagement formats in an interesting way to help out users who are lagging behind in the competition.
- Better Rewards: One of the major concerns raised by fantasy sports users in India has been the unavailability of lucrative rewards. While a lot of them would like a higher value reward, that does not necessarily mean a cash reward. Players are interested in other forms of rewards as well like match tickets, meeting their favourite sports celebrities, etc. If fantasy sports apps can help players achieve these small sports dreams, it can go a long way in ensuring player loyalty.
- Community Building: Sports connect people across races, genders, social classes, etc. People love engaging in discussions and debates over sports. Fantasy sports apps are a haven for sports lovers in India. These apps should create new avenues to help their users connect with each other. That will not only help in player bonding but also ensure that players stay loyal to particular apps to stay connected with each other.
Let’s hope that we get to see more innovations in the fantasy sports industry even after the pandemic ends. We at Howzat are constantly striving to provide the best fantasy sports experience in India. If you are a fantasy sports lover and haven’t played on Howzat yet, do you even love fantasy sports? Download the Howzat app now and win real cash every day!