Updated: Sep 14, 2021
Cricket is undoubtedly one of the most popular sports in India. And, with the advent of the T20 format and the IPL, there is newfound craze among people in fantasy apps. After all, this enables fans across all age groups to utilise their knowledge of the game, without stepping onto the field.
An exciting game of cricket in India has the potential to bring families, friends and even strangers together to cheer for their favourite team and player. After the introduction of Twenty 20, the shortest format of the sport (popularly known as T20 and comprising 20 overs per innings) and the growing popularity of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the viewership across the country shot up.
People congregating to watch the Indian cricket team in action (Image credit: Dawn/ICC)
Low-cost internet data packages and high penetration of smartphones amplified this even further. This laid the foundation for fantasy sports apps over the last decade. The aspect that individuals loved the most was employing their know-how and strategies of the sport from the comfort of their homes.
What are fantasy cricket apps and how do they work?
Fantasy cricket is a concept which is a subset of fantasy sports where users can garner rewards in the form of money.
Symbolic representation of the fantasy apps in cricket (Illustration by Pratyush Thaker)
Organised in the form of contests, the users are allowed to build a virtual team with players who play in real life, and compete against the teams of other users. Depending on how well the cricket team performs in actual matches, the virtual one created by the users are allotted points. And finally, the users with the highest points are declared winners and paid the prize money.
According to the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), the revenue of fantasy sports operators increased almost three-folds in the financial year 2020-2021 amounting to a whopping Rs 2,400 crore. Even the number of fantasy sports operators and users shot up from 10 in 2016 to 150 in 2020 and from two million in 2016 to over 100 million in 2020 respectively.
The popular ones
Well, users need to consider some key factors - number of players, app interface, winnings, and the range of contests before choosing the app.
Founded in 2008, the Dream 11 app has one of the highest number of users, huge potential winnings and a wide variety of contests to select from. Their omnipresent ad-campaigns, catchy slogans as well as out of the box marketing techniques often involving leading Indian cricketers like MS Dhoni, it has carved a niche for itself in this space.
Harsh Jain, the CEO and co-founder of Dream 11 stresses on the presence of brand ambassadors like MS Dhoni, creating a sense of trust among people.
Jain says, “Brand ambassadors pass on their credibility through the brands they endorse.”
Mobile Premier League (MPL) is another fantasy app that boasts of more than four crore users. Apart from signing India’s present captain, Virat Kohli, as the brand ambassador, MPL serves as one of the sponsors for the Indian cricket team.
Yet another fast-growing fantasy app is My11Circle. Relatively newer than the other applications, My11Circle comes with massive cash pools and potential earnings of up to Rs 1 crore and a myriad variety of fun games. Besides renowned cricketing personalities like Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh is also one of the faces of this app.
Top Indian cricketers endorsing fantasy apps (Image credit: Redbytes)
Some other important aspects that you need to consider before latching onto an app includes - the number of users it has, how much they are investing in advertising and the kind of cash pool available. These factors play a role in determining the winnings. If the app is advertising a lot, it means they are invested in putting together a good experience and are likely to offer attractive payoffs. If the app has a large number of users, the level of competition is a lot more.
Akash Singh, a postgraduate student studying sports management, is a regular on fantasy apps during IPL and other cricket matches.
“I have been using Dream11 for the last two years and I have found it more competitive than the other fantasy apps. In addition, I have been able to build on my cricketing knowledge. I got to know the names and the knacks of every player in their respective teams, be it domestic or international,” he says.
Boosting other sports apps
In 2008, when Dream11 was founded, a lot of people were unaware of fantasy sports. Fast forward to 2021, Dream11 is the first Indian gaming company to enter the “Unicorn Club”and their user base is growing rapidly.
While the majority of fantasy apps are predominantly driven by cricket, they are considered to play a significant role in amplifying the fan base of other sports like football, kabaddi and basketball.
Pros and cons
Fantasy sports platforms are known to offer rewards which run upto crores of rupees. While this may sound harmless, it can most certainly backfire.
There are several lucrative contests in them - some have a small prize pool while others have bigger prize pools. The problem arises when players start thinking of these platforms as a “get rich quick” scheme. It takes a certain level of skill and luck to win at these games and it is very easy to get carried away by them and lose money.
Also, the legality of these apps remains to be a grey area with some Indian states like Assam, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Nagaland and Sikkim, banning their use altogether. The fantasy sports industry is regulated in the US, but not in India.
Edited by Roshni Shroff,
Research by Aditya Bhattacharya and Abhijeet Nagpal
Some resources and links to help you learn more on fantasy apps -