Over the last few years, fantasy platforms have been integral to the growth of real-world sports. Most notably, the digital play-along function has played a significant role in furthering the interactivity of cricket. As such, modern-day developments have revolutionised cricket and spectator immersion. Not only that, but the rise to prominence of fantasy platforms is having a positive knock-on effect on real-world sports. So, let’s take a look at how the web-based, real-time sector is transforming cricket.
As touched on above, fantasy cricket has enabled the sport’s governing bodies to expand their global reach. In turn, this has resulted in heightened numbers of spectators tuning in to watch highly-anticipated competitions. The viewing numbers of the opening Indian Premier League match in 2020 registered 200 million viewers, which was a new record for the league-formatted tournament.
Interestingly, it’s believed that emerging fantasy platforms are somewhat responsible for those record-breaking viewing figures. According to a study from the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, 60 per cent of fantasy sports users are now more likely to follow real-world sports than they were prior to fantasy developments. Of those, the same study found that 59 per cent of users are now watching new sports.
Fundamentally, this new-found admiration will likely see spectators explore diverse avenues regarding real-world sports. Along with fantasy platforms, sports betting operators also provide an in-depth route to sports immersion. At Funbet in India, prospective bettors can browse an array of cricket-related markets, including India’s upcoming test series against Justin Langer’s Australia. Moreover, there’s also the potential to bet on future events, such as the 2021/22 Ashes. This is evidence of both the sport’s existing appeal and its potential for greater connectivity.
Along with transforming how spectators can immerse themselves in cricket tournaments, fantasy sports are also contributing financially to various sports platforms. This is evident from the growth of Mobile Premier League. Since coming to fruition in September 2018, the platform has placed fantasy cricket at the forefront of their operations. In their efforts to grow their offerings outside of India, TechCrunch report that the service raised over £67 million in funding.
In addition to MPL’s planned expansion, the 13th edition of the IPL also indicates how fantasy platforms are financially benefiting cricket. As per an article at Business Standard, Dream11 won the right to be the 2020 IPL’s title sponsor with a bid of approximately £22.5 million. Not only does this benefit the limited-overs format of the sport from a monetary standpoint, but it also highlights a sense of locality. Interestingly, a report on brand values in the IPL found that the organisation’s value rose from £3.1 billion in 2016 to £3.9 in 2017.
Ultimately, there can be no doubt that fantasy sports have drastically altered the outlook of cricket in the 21st century. Unlike in prior years, the bat-and-ball game is more interactive than ever before, which is benefiting spectator interactivity and the sport from a financial viewpoint. In the coming years, this digital, new-age trend will likely continue, particularly given how successful it has already proven to be.