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According to experts, 60-70% of Dream11’s overall revenues are concentrated around the IPL tournament. (HT)
According to experts, 60-70% of Dream11’s overall revenues are concentrated around the IPL tournament. (HT)

Dream11 is ready for next level with IPL winning bid

  • The sponsorship will help the startup’s ambitions to expand beyond fantasy sports
  • The startup has built India’s biggest fantasy sports platform on the back of strong tie-ups with leading sports leagues

Fantasy sports platform Dream11’s winning bid for the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League (IPL) signifies the startup’s growing ambition and growth plans that could see it enter newer business segments.

Founded in 2008 by Harsh Jain (CEO) and Bhavit Sheth (COO), Mumbai-based Dream11 has over 80 million users and is the first gaming startup from India to reach the unicorn status, an industry term for startups valued above $1 billion. Jain is the son of Anand Jain, a close aide of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani.

An avid supporter of Manchester United, Mumbai Indians, and the Indian cricket team, Jain completed his engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and MBA from Columbia Business School. Sheth got his MBA in corporate finance from Bentley University and engineering from DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering.

“Dream11 is a successful brand and their association with the IPL franchise has helped them in the past. Now, they want to take it to the next level by moving up from being a secondary brand to being right in the face of the audience," said Ashutosh Sharma, vice-president, research director, Forrester. “Though many people who watched the IPL were aware of Dream11 to some extent, now they may want to engage with it to see how the virtual game works, along with the real one," he added.

The IPL deal will help Dream11 with its plans to expand its business beyond fantasy sports on the back of the huge and highly engaged user base that the startup has built, a person aware of the matter said.

“They have built a huge user base. Now, they have major plans to expand to other allied sports segments including areas such as offline sports events and sports merchandise," the person cited above said on condition of anonymity.

To be sure, tie-ups with premium sports leagues is not new to Dream11. In fact, the startup has built India’s biggest fantasy sports platform on the back of strong tie-ups with leading sports leagues.

In 2018, Dream 11 announced tie-ups with the International Cricket Council, Pro Kabaddi League, International Hockey Federation and Big Bash League, offering fantasy leagues on their flagship tournaments. Former Indian cricket team captain M.S. Dhoni was signed as the brand ambassador and the first hockey league was launched in the same year.

In 2019, it added the first fantasy league on IPL and followed it with a fantasy volleyball league.

According to the founder of a mobile gaming platform, 60-70% of Dream11’s overall revenues are concentrated around the IPL. The fact that Dream11 is paying a huge sum to gain these rights may not be a surprise to many either.

A 9 July report by FIFA and KPMG said the Indian online fantasy sports industry’s gross revenues crossed 2,400 crore in FY2020, more than three times the 920 crore it had earned in FY2019.

Dream11 didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story.

abhijit.a@livemint.com

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