The year 2020 has not been great for a lot of businesses but the Online Fantasy Sports (OFS) space is one which has seen a major upsurge in participation. This claim was further solidified by a report released by The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) earlier this year which stated the OFS operators’ gross revenues stood at INR 2400+ crore in FY20 as compared to INR 920+ crore in FY19, an increase of 3X over a period of 12 months.
While all live sporting activities were brought to a halt in the starting of the year with the onset of the pandemic, online fantasy sports platforms such as BalleBaazi.com also saw a reduced number of users on their platform but they have bounced back and are trying to rub shoulders with the big boys in the industry.
In a free-wheeling chat with Mr. Saurabh Chopra, the CEO of BalleBaazi.com, we discussed how they intend to compete with the competition brands and how they intend to break free from the clutter in the market. Read on to know more:
You are competing with players like Dream 11 and My 11 Circle and many others. How do you see yourself in the market against competitors such as these?
The fantasy gaming space where our competitors have raised more than $200MN in funds in the year 2019 alone, BalleBaazi.com with its Series-A round of funding of $4MN has proven how you can build a solid gaming platform with a relatively humble seeding.
While the market expanded into many operators, BalleBaazi.com has sustained as one of the top 5 platforms. Our extremely loyal userbase of core fantasy gaming enthusiasts attained over the years is a proof to that. Having said that, we are seeing a D-30 retention of 40% for its newly acquired users which is significantly higher than the industry standard.
Our vision is very clear, we want to stay focused on the core group which are the avid sports & fantasy gaming enthusiasts. Our product & gaming experience, marketing and communications are all built around the same vision.
While 2020 has not been a great year for a lot of markets, especially sports. How has your year been with the challenges you had to grapple with?
Even though this year has been challenging for a lot of businesses, the Online Fantasy Sports (OFS) industry has witnessed an upsurge in the past few years especially in 2019 when the market saw a spiraling ascent, sparking the onset of many new players in the industry. With the industry witnessing this boom, BalleBaazi.com accumulated a user base of around 400,000 active users within just 12 months of its launch and accounted 70% of its userbase in semi-urban regions and smaller cities, as compared to 30% users from Tier 1 locations.
Even when live sporting events had come to a halt due to the Covid-19 scare, we kept our fans engaged via running Virtual Fantasy Leagues on our platform in association with FanBlaze (YouTube streaming channel) and we also introduced Sports Quizzes which enhanced the user’s knowledge and eventually their skill of their respective sports. The next 24 months will also be an exciting time for us as we get set to witness the cricketing fiesta with 3 IPLs and 2 World Cups being played in the duration. We are well equipped and have charted out a detailed plan to grow our business significantly in this period. We have utilized this sports break to further enhance our tech stack which is now capable of handling upwards of 1 million concurrent users on the app.
Could you share your growth figures for FY 19-20 and what are your plans for the coming year?
BalleBaazi.com has witnessed a solid growth in its first 2 years, posting an increase of 500% CAGR in FY 19-20 as compared to 18-19. We are on course to posting another year of significant growth despite COVID bringing a halt to sports for almost 4 months. We are the go-to destination for the true fantasy gaming enthusiasts and we plan to continue to build upon that while keeping growth rate high. To expand our outreach, we have partnered with many brands on a cross-value proposition to maximize our approach and provide our users with many value adding offers on our platform. Also, taking our community feedback into consideration, we are continuously working towards re-vamping the Machine Learning based AI for real-time matches, enhancing the UI UX to be gamified with a minimalistic design philosophy.
We are seeing an upsurge of more operators in the fantasy gaming space; how do you see cut yourself from the clutter?
From the day BalleBaazi.com went live in January’18, we have always focused on building upon being off the clutter. Like I mentioned before, our focus remains on acquiring core gamers who bring more value to the table both in terms of revenue and community feedback.
Our gaming innovation team has always come out with innovative features like the now popular Batting & Bowling fantasy formats which are truly loved by our users. The Baazi reward programme under which a user wins BB coins even if he/she ends at a losing position, the BB coins can be used to purchase goodies, gadgets, and sports merchandise from the reward store.
Our business case is wrapped around continuous innovation with features and services which places us in a very different category in the eyes of most of the users, thus the higher retention rates that we witness.