January, 2010

Business Profile: Dream11

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Company: Dream11 Gaming Pvt. Ltd.
Launch date: Spring 2009

Football is fantasy king here in the states, but it’s popularity doesn’t touch the level of some global spectator sports — including cricket. Despite a “religious” following, however, the fantasy market for this international phenomenon remains largely untapped. Yashraj Vakil of Dream11 took some time before jetting to the recent Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference in Las Vegas to tell FSB.com about how his young company is tapping in.

1. First of all, cricket might seem like somewhat of an oddity to many Americans. Can you describe for that section of the audience the scope of cricket’s popularity globally, as well as in the Far East?

Cricket is the second most popular spectator sport globally after soccer. Cricket is primarily played in eight countries, which include: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Besides these, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has 104 associate and affiliate members where it is recognized that cricket is firmly established and organized or simply played as per the laws. More prominent among these associate and affiliate members are Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland and Afghanistan. USA is an associate member of the ICC with an estimated 15 million followers, 950 cricket clubs and 48 leagues. Cricket will also be a medal sport in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games (China). This is expected to go a long way in developing cricket as a sport in China. Global television rights for major cricket tournaments get sold for billions of dollars. Sachin Tendulkar, arguably India’s best-ever cricket player, earns about $30 a minute. Compare to that India’s richest businessman, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries, who earns $10 a minute and Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan who earns $8 a minute. Ordinary people like the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, earn 1 cent a minute. The annual advertising market for cricket in India alone could be close to a billion dollars with over $178 million expected to be realized between September 2009 and February 2010.

2. How prevalent are fantasy sports in your area?

Sports in India and the Indian sub-continent is primarily restricted to cricket. There is also following for Soccer (English Premier League) and Formula 1 in the major cities of India. However, cricket is followed like a religion. The ticketing industry for cricket matches in India is worth over a billion dollars with average ticket prices ranging between $5-7. When you put this number with the total Internet population in India, which currently stands at over 60m, you have a business potential that cannot be ignored. India is also expected to have the third largest Internet user base in the world by 2013, with China and USA at number 1 and 2, respectively. The best way to tap into this dormant, Internet-savvy and cricket-fanatic population is fantasy sports. However, fantasy sports are not as popular as they could be. The biggest reason behind this remains the lack of a serious player who recognizes the potential and takes on the mantle to establish and grow the market. Dream11.com is here for exactly that. A lot of user surveys and behavioral research has gone into what we are doing, and our core focus remains to tap into the potential of fantasy cricket worldwide.

3. How were you and other leaders of Dream 11 introduced to fantasy?

I have spent over 7 years in the games industry (games, not gambling) and have had exposure to fantasy sports at multiple levels through my career. For other leaders at Dream11.com, their first exposure to fantasy sports was fantasy soccer, which they still play religiously.

4. How would you sum up the Dream 11 concept for someone first learning about it?

Dream11.com is the world’s first fantasy cricket game with a graphical user interface. It’s free to play and requires the user to optimize a virtual budget of Rs. 100 billion in selecting a team of cricketers who he believes will perform the best in real life cricket matches. Users score points depending on those performs and compete with the cricket community for handsome prizes and recognition as the best fantasy cricket team manager. Unlike other fantasy sports worldwide where players make one team for an entire season (one year), fantasy cricket on Dream11.com allows players to create a new team for every international cricket tournament/series.

5. What led you to believe that your marketplace could support this concept?

Like I mentioned earlier, cricket is followed like a religion in India. Last year television viewership of the Indian Premier League (IPL — Indian club competition with international and local players) reached 123 million. The IPL is the most popular and richest cricket league in the world with an average in-stadia attendance of 57,500 people. The ICC Cricket World Cup is the world’s second largest single sporting event, drawing a cumulative television audience of 5 billion. A final involving India could draw up to 400 million TV viewers (India has 130 million television sets). Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the world’s richest sporting organization, with a valuation in excess of $2 billion. According to a recent report published by Forrester Research, India is expected to have the 3rd largest Internet user base in the world by 2013. All of this has led us to believe that the market for fantasy cricket is available and waiting to get tapped into.

6. How has it been received?

In just 8 months of our launch and having covered just one major tournament, Dream11.com today have over 450,000 registered users, over 8 million page views a month. The average time spent on our portal is close to 20 minutes. Dream11.com is today the No. 1 fantasy cricket game in the world.

7. How does Dream 11 make money?

Our revenue model revolves around four major aspects:

• Advertising — The usual CPM, CPC, CPA/CPL deals
• Tournament Sponsorships — Unlike sports in the U.S. or soccer in Europe, cricket is an international sport. At any given point in time there are two or more countries locked in a tournament/series somewhere in the world. We allow the cricket community to compete on each of those tournaments individually. This means they can make separate teams for each tournament/series, get ranked separately and stand the chance to win prizes separately. One of our revenue models is sponsorship of these tournaments/series.
• Advergames — We have a lot of online flash games on our portal for the user engagement.
• Innovative brand engagement methods with social networking tools available on the portal — Apart from fantasy cricket and online games, Dream11.com has the option for advertisers to engage with consumers through the social networking features available on the portal. This can be done through tools such as sponsored leagues, widgets, poll, messages, etc.

8. What do you see for the future of your company, the future of the fantasy industry in your part of the world and the future of fantasy cricket globally?

The initial response to our product has been overwhelming, but we are still a young company. We simply need to put our head down and keep working towards realizing the global potential of fantasy cricket. We are the market leaders today and have taken on the mantle of growing the fantasy cricket industry in our part of the world. But that’s not where we see ourselves being restricted to. England and Australia are other big markets where we see good potential. Today there is a lot of chatter in the media about professional cricket coming to USA. We see potential here as well.

9. What do you hope to draw from membership in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, and what has it provided to this point?

We hope to be recognized as a serious player in the fantasy sports industry with this membership. The FSTA membership has provided us a global platform to showcase our product and a chance to learn from industry stalwarts. We are grateful to the FSTA and its board of directors for accepting our membership.

10. What does the nomination in the FSTA’s Best New Website category mean, and what might a win do for Dream 11?

The nomination is a huge honor. Dream11.com is the first company outside of USA to be nominated for the awards. A win here [would have been] tribute to the hard work and sleepless nights that the team has put into making Dream11.com a world-class and successful fantasy cricket product.


FSB Daily 1/29: Accuracy Challenge, KFFL, FSC, One for the Gamers

Friday, January 29th, 2010

A roundup of items recently posted on the FSB News page.

- We provided a short report Wednesday on CBS Sports winning the 2009 football rankings Accuracy Challenge, run by the Fantasy Football Librarian. Well, here’s much more information on the competition and the finishers via the Librarian’s post on The New York Times’ “Fifth Down” blog. A full list of participants can be found on the FF Librarian blog.

- KFFL didn’t win any of the Accuracy Challenge categories but did finish an impressive second in both the baseball and football stat-projection portions. Aside from making sure that everyone was aware of that, KFFL’s Nicholas Minnix took the time to name the various people who have contributed.

- The BlogTalkRadio folks have reason to be happy after their Fantasy Sports Channel took home two Fantasy Sports Trade Association awards at the winter conference in Las Vegas this week.

- I would never classify myself as a “gamer,” so the Blood Bowl concept doesn’t really appeal to me. That isn’t to say, of course, that a gory football game featuring orcs and other fantasy creatures isn’t interesting. It also can’t hurt Kyle Turley to have another league in which he qualifies.

Send all of your news, job postings, stories and profile ideas to [email protected]. Follow us on Twitter (FSBcom).


How Ready is the World for Fantasy Sports?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

It’s no secret at this point that there is expansive growth potential for fantasy sports around the world, but we can’t expect everyone to simply pick up immediately on the style of games we’re used.

This week’s Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference in Las Vegas presented several reasons to believe this. Namely …

- Aaron Amic of IPSOS recounted his tale of trying to collect fantasy sports user data in China, only to have multiple iterations of his line of questions fail to be understood by the audience. In addition to the obvious barriers in lingual and cultural differences, some will simply have trouble grasping the concept of “fantasy” as we know it right away.

- FSB.com learned anecdotally that Chinese gamers present a different set of needs when it comes to entertaining. One attendee who is working within that marketplace told of a culture whose interest will be tough to retain with our usual form of fantasy, which might not offer instant enough gratification.

- Fantasy players in India have reportedly jumped on the concept set forth by Dream11 in its fantasy cricket game, but they stand behind a technological hurdle when it comes to paying for online play. Dream11 owner Harsh Jain said during the conference’s international panel that his country’s system for online credit-card payment has yet to present the level of consumer protection that would allow the public to use it comfortably. That doesn’t impede a free game but is a big and obvious obstacle for any company seeking any level of payment for play. Especially at a time when the micro-transaction model continues to grow in popularity, it’s a problem that we should hope gets fixed.

- An Australian businessman spoke of still needing to explain what “fantasy” is to many potential partners and clients. This is no doubt an issue that has faced fantasy sports proprietors everywhere, yet still a gap that requires a bridge.

- Some popular international sports — cricket and rugby, for example — present sporadic schedules that present challenges in plotting out fantasy games that will hold users’ attention or entice them to return. These sports might have tournaments here and there, as opposed to the continuous seasons that Americans are used to in our major leagues.

Even where fantasy has already begun to emerge, there’s still plenty of room for the style of games to change, grow and expand. FSB.com did a little research on global fantasy-contest outlets in advance of the aforementioned international panel and found the following results:

- Out of 26 fantasy games/outlets reviewed (international soccer suites for ESPN and Yahoo! that contained 11 total games were counted as two outlets), 21 followed salary cap style.

- Four followed pick-em or predictor formats, with just one using league-based competition.

- Only two of the 26 used pay models, with the rest free to play.

We all know that fantasy can be a fun hobby or pursuit and that it has the power to engage any audience that likes sports. There’s little doubt that fantasy can cater to varying sensibilities in a wide range of cultures. Anyone hoping to be the caterer, however, can’t overlook the potential pitfalls.


CBS, Rotohog Win Accuracy Awards

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

CBS Sports set forth the most accurate football player rankings in 2009, while Rotohog was tops in stat projections for both baseball and football.

Sara Holladay, the Fantasy Football Librarian, and Donnie Campbell of TheMostCredible.com handed out those awards Wednesday at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference.

CBS topped a field of 48 participants — more than double the entries from 2008 — in the second season of the FSTA’s partnership on the Accuracy Challenge. Fantazzle took home last year’s award.

Rotohog’s wins each came in new categories.

Although the competition is obviously done at this point, Holladay and Campbell welcomed anyone who wasn’t included to submit their 2009 preseason rankings and/or projections now to see how they stacked up.