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Fantasy Sports has become the backbone of the sports industry: Vinit Godara, Co-founder and CEO, MyTeam11

Fans are the key to building a strong sports brand and at MyTeam11 they are at the very heart of any kind of work that we do, says Godara.

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Propelled by the increased pace of digitisation, India is fast emerging as the destination for fantasy sports. Penetration of the internet and adoption of smartphones have also been contributing factors towards the growth of the segment in the country. 

With the pandemic hitting all live major sports events to get delayed or even dropped, the fantasy sports industry has come to the rescue of the audiences and boomed like never before in the year 2020. 

In a conversation with BW Applause and Everything Experiential, Vinit Godara, Co-founder and CEO, MyTeam11 shared how the year 2020 was for fantasy gaming platforms, his key learnings, thoughts on IPL, future plans and more.

Excerpts:

How has the year been for fantasy gaming platforms and Myteam11?

The year 2020 has been a year of learning for all of us and we have certainly started valuing various aspects of our life and business more ardently. While there were initial clouds of uncertainty, we have surely had some key breakthroughs. According to me, the following have been the key highlights of the year.

Since the formal announcement of IPL 2020 in UAE, Fantasy Sports has stood as the backbone of the sports industry whether it is in terms of any major association or giving the sports lovers the best possible immersive experience to stay connected with their favourite sport.

The Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on 10th Global Sports Summit TURF 2020 has also said that “Fantasy Sports has played a very important role in fuelling sports consumption and it has revolutionized the manner in which sports enthusiasts engage with their respective favourite sports.” This is an evidence of the fact how the industry is playing now a key role.

As far as the job market is concerned our industry is certainly forecasted to be one of the frontrunners. To validate this, a PricewaterhouseCoopers India report has predicted that the industry has the potential to generate an additional over 5,000 direct and more than 7,000 indirect jobs in the next 2-3 years. This year has also seen the rise of many new players in the industry which has further increased the healthy competition in the market.

As far as MyTeam11 is concerned, 2020 has rather proved the viability of our innovation-based business model. We have been able to diversify our portfolio with the launch of properties like MyTeam11 Quiz, MyteamRummy, Myteampokerand expand our horizons. Besides, we have seen one of the best performances as far as IPL is concerned in terms of user growth. Hence, we are only coming out of 2020 as a stronger brand.

Do you think that IPL 2020 was the defining point for fantasy sports platforms in India?

We all know what IPL means to the Indian cricket fans. This year was even more special considering it was organized after a prolonged delay and had the fans waiting. The season has been a milestone year considering many OFS operators were associated in some way or the other with the league and teams. The acceptance of this kind by the top league in the country will surely do a world of good for the industry. As far as viewership is concerned all records were broken and I believe a major credit goes to our industry who played a key role in making the experience more immersive and engaging as there was no in-stadia audience.

As far as our performance is concerned, MyTeam11 saw a 40% to 50% rise in the number of participants this year compared to last year. Our monthly average user engagement rate also saw a steep growth and it was almost 3-3.5X as compared to previous season of IPL.

MyTeam11's strategy behind not going on a spending spree whereas the other players were going all out with their partnerships. Any future partnerships in mind?

From the very inception of MyTeam11, we have been very strategic and cognizant of our investments and partnerships which has worked well for us. We are a bootstrapped firm and hence, we need to be cautious rather than being improvident about it.

Hence, this year our main focus was on increasing our marketing spends to utilize all possible mediums of promoting the brand and reach out directly to our customers offering the best possible immersive experience. Our budgets on our marketing campaign were as much as 28 – 30 Cr. across all mediums of promotion with a special emphasis on TV and digital as mediums for direct outreach.

As far as future partnerships are concerned, we are open to the same as long as the partnership aids us in our strategic growth objective. We have always believed in the sustainable growth of the brand and this is what has helped us stay in the game in the long run.

What do the NITI Aayog guidelines mean for fantasy gaming platforms?

The common guidelines suggested by the NitiAayog for fantasy sports business are by far the most empowering move for the industry in my opinion. The draft guidelines which are now open to comments will surely pave the way for a more uniform regulatory framework.

What have been your key learnings from the past year?

The year in contention has surely seen many ups and downs and all the hurdles have compounded into some key learnings for us both as a business and the industry as a whole.

The industry is becoming competitive with each passing day and it is rather a positive sign because it only keeps us on our toes to come up with more innovative solutions for our users. Further, customer retention has been one of the key pain points for the industry in the recent past and personalization has become a key aspect for better customer retention.

As MyTeam11, we have experimented and innovated based on personalized data of our users which has given us great results in the past few years with the customer retention rates considerably going up. We have seen a 35%-40% increment in the number of new users but the revenue increased to more than 100% compared to last year which is a very positive sign. Therefore, we surely want to take personalization to the next level to give our users the best possible experience.

There is a need for a uniform regulatory framework. I am really glad that NITI Aayog has taken up the initiative of streamlining this process. This will hopefully pave the way for lifting the industry in a major way driving us towards an exponential growth trajectory in the coming years.

What are some of your future plans?

Fans are the key to building a strong sports brand and at MyTeam11 they are at the very heart of any kind of work that we do. The cost of acquiring customers is on the rise and the market is highly competitive and retaining customers is a challenge. Hence, one of our key areas of focus for 2021 will be Customer Retention. Although we have been focusing on customer retention for a long time, now we have made it a mandate to dedicate certain activities purely to drive higher customer retention rates.

To accomplish this, we are focusing multiple initiatives around identifying customer patterns, collecting a lot of data, and then using the data to make intelligent decisions and also build a holistic database that gives a complete picture of what our users are indulging in at a particular point in time. These practices have helped us customize our user personalization process.

Due to our dedicated efforts, we have seen a 35%-40% increment in the number of new users but the revenue increased to more than 100% compared to last year which is a very positive sign.

Also, we would be focusing on expanding the services of our ancillary platform SportsTiger to increase engagement and improve customer experience by educating our users about sports. Over the last few months, we have built a strong community of loyal fans who wait eagerly to watch our original shows and follow our fantasy predictions. Also, we are constantly trying to promote every sport in our original shows. An example of the same is our recent show “Building Bridge” which is focusing on bringing alive the story of lesser-known athletes to the fore.

We are also working towards integrating SportsTiger more closely with MyTeam11 App to unify the customer experience. Our objective is to ensure that the fans won’t require to visit 5 different platforms to get the necessary sports news. This will surely improve the customer experience manifold.



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