fantasy sports platformSales are increasing in India, where sales have tripled since FY2020.
- The next step is
fantasy sportsThe plan is to have AI-generated avatars compete.
- Meta11, one of the AI-generated FSPs, aims to make money through hosting
original contentAnd stream the game.
The excitement of the ICC World Cup is engulfing the whole country. From stockbrokers to central bank governors, there are few people who can speak without making a cricket pun. But the fun doesn’t end there. For cricket lovers, it’s also the season to indulge in fantasy games. The company is now a full-fledged business, with revenue tripling in the subsequent fiscal year starting in fiscal 2020, according to a report by Deloitte.
Even experienced cricketers agree, with former Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara co-founding one such company, Meta11. Meta11 is an AI-generated fantasy sports platform that aims to generate revenue through hosting original content and streaming games. .
Business Insider India spoke to Sangakkara and Krishan Deegalla, CEO of Behaviol, which is focused on bringing fantasy sports to the Metaverse through Meta11. Edited excerpts.
Sangakkara, you are one of the few cricketers who is also the founder of a startup. Why did fantasy become interested in the business of sports?
It was born out of the idea of how can we make cricket truly accessible to everyone? Not everyone can pick up a bat and a ball and play. But there’s a lot of love for this sport. How can we actually make sure that cricket is for everyone? Web-based games have a huge opportunity to do that.
That was the starting point for this project, and then we brainstormed and came up with the concept for Meta11. AI-controlled avatars can play sports, predict outcomes, and more.
It’s amazing to see so many people being able to make their cricketing dreams come true on our platform and that’s the real key. Cricket is for everyone.
Cricket has a very strong emotional connection. Once you become a cricket fan, you stay a cricket fan forever. Some of our strategies, tactics and match moments can even influence tactical decisions later in real life cricket.
Even if I don’t know the first thing about playing cricket other than watching it, am I in the audience?
Avatars are controlled by artificial intelligence, so anyone can play. In other words, they learn as players of the game. If you own your own avatar, you can expose your avatar to more matched play training, gain more experience, and learn on your own. This is a great tool not only in spreading awareness about cricket but also in promoting globalization.
There are a lot of fantasy gaming apps in India. How do you differentiate?
Our games are very easy to log in and when you play, you can earn rewards for playing rather than paying. Our technology platform, avatars and digital works are state-of-the-art and industry-leading in the game of cricket. So we’re very differentiated and we want to maintain that model.
Are there any plans to introduce competitive games like regular fantasy sports?
We want to see how we can connect the digital world with physical, real cricket. We have a chance to put it into practice. You can create a super avatar or super digital player anywhere in the game. From both teams he can select 5 players. And if that player performs well in real life, he or she can earn points. We never create just fancy apps. It will always be linked to the game.
It also has the ability to drop real-world cricket players into the game. Franchise teams can play real-world cricket and fan communities can compete against each other on the platform.
So, is it possible that someday we can be teammates on this platform?
absolutely. There’s no doubt about that. You can play against me or you can play against other cricketers. If possible, we would appreciate it if you could play against your friends and family.
Can you explain how you plan to increase engagement and make it more interesting for even less dedicated fans?
Ownership is key to engagement, allowing people to form meaningful relationships with their digital avatars. We have to train them and create our own team. We also host tournaments that are team leagues to the exciting platform.
The government has introduced 28% GST on fantasy games. Isn’t that a cause for concern and a drain on your income?
(28% GST) I believe is for the paid model. Ours is free to play. Users do not need to put their own money into play. That’s a completely different kind of foundation than what we’re working on.
If you look at traditional fantasy games, they rely on real games. There’s no real content in it. We generate our own content. All content streamed is owned by us. Now we have a way to monetize this and reward our users. It’s like planning a real game. You can also look forward to funding and streaming rights from sponsors, which you can then give back to the community.
You talked about streaming. If you could talk about the monetization aspect.
The number of users on the first day was 30,000. Apart from Google, Facebook, etc., there is a huge demand for advertising on alternative channels. That’s why if you look at IPL TV rights, it runs into billions of dollars. So we think it would be a good alternative for that. The game is exciting. People can relate to it and that means it becomes appealing. You should then be able to monetize through sponsorships and streaming.
What is the future vision for Meta11?
Having an AI character play cricket and allowing people to own it is quite an evolution. Within this framework, opportunities are emerging that we ourselves never thought of. I’m sure there will be many opportunities. The vision remains to democratize sport and make it accessible to the masses. And to keep the platform interesting and scalable.