Fantasy sports firms expect strong comeback as live sports resumes in empty stadiums

MUMBAI: The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), the industry body for self-regulation in the sector, is rooting for a strong comeback for the fantasy gaming firms with return of live sports in different parts of the world.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, most of the live sports had come to a halt, resulting in massive drop in fantasy gaming too. However, the fantasy sports industry, while impacted due to these cancellations, were also able to bring some sporting action to Indian sports fans through the introduction of new sports and tournaments from places which were free of the pandemic.

Some of the tournaments include global mainstream sporting events such as Bundesliga, La Liga and EPL, while others were from places like Austria, Caribbean Islands, Australia and Russia. Few FIFS members also helped some of these tournaments to run by becoming a sponsor, thereby contributing directly to the growth of the overall sports ecosystem.

“Sports industry is witnessing a speedy resumption after a long hiatus across the world. Major leagues like EPL, LA Liga are already live, and some of the other international and domestic cricket tournaments have come out with the scheduled dates. With sports resuming, the fantasy sports industry is seeing an uptick in user engagement on their platforms,” said Amrit Mathur, strategic advisor, FIFS.

Starting July, a host of International and domestic cricket tournaments, UEFA Champions League football, NBA basketball and other sports will join the already-live tournaments like Bundesliga, La Liga, EPL, FA Cup and Coppa Italia.

With sports resuming globally, most likely without an in-stadia audience, digital fan engagement platforms like fantasy sports will become crucial in driving deeper fan engagement, FIFS feels.

In fact, during the months of April to June, over 1000 sports matches were hosted across the Indian fantasy sports platforms, which saw engagement of over 5 million fans. The Indian fantasy sports platforms also introduced three new sports – Baseball, Handball and Rugby to their offering.

Mathur added that with almost all of the sports tournaments being hosted behind closed doors, without fans in the stadium, digital engagement with sports fans is going to be very important in the coming few months for the sports leagues.

“Fantasy Sports has been one of the essential digital mediums to deeply engage fans with the sports they love. We are sure to see even more engagement on Fantasy Sports than pre-Covid times,” he added.

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