The rise of Sports tech starts-ups
Emerging technologies and the importance of data have evolved the sports sector across the globe.
With the sports infrastructure becoming more accessible and technology taking over every industry, a large number of start-ups have emerged in the sports sector who have revolutionized and transformed the way we consume our favorite sport. These changes are making the sector a rather lucrative one with a potential for high returns for its investors, founders and employees. In simple terms, sports tech start-ups are offering sports enthusiasts online sports experiences. Every stage of sports now involves tech, from fan engagement to state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment, broadcasting, live performance tracking and more. AI and ML especially have helped improve sports drastically.
Sports Tech start-ups indulge a consumer by offering them opportunities to play card games, lead the score chart to earn money, fantasy leagues to virtual gaming have been gaining a substantial percentage in the overall sports tech sector while there are start-ups that focus on selling data points they collect via emerging technologies (AI, ML, Big Data and more) on teams, players, tournaments and game.
A leading reason on why these tech start-ups have a substantially large consumer base in such a short period of time since inception is the fact that their consumers include from an 18 year old boy interested in fantasy cricket league to a 62 year old man. This wide range of potential consumer base has offered the sports tech sector a market with an exponentially large target audience to tap.
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Some of the leading Indian Sports Tech start-ups as of 2021 are:
An online fantasy gaming platform for multi-category sports.
Using your experience and knowledge of a sport, you can build your own fantasy team on this app and challenge other sports fans across the country. With the opportunity to win exciting gifts and hampers, this has been a hit for Dream 11. From starting in 2008, to becoming official partner for close to 40 national and international leagues including NBA, ICC, IPL and more, Dream 11 also has partnerships with leading sports brands like Puma.
MPL- Mobile Premier League
India’s largest mobile gaming and esports platform.
Offers 60+ free game downloads from card games, arcade games, fantasy sports, puzzle games, action games and more. With over 9 crore users, the app offers its consumers the option to play for real money in games such as Rummy, Chess, Fantasy cricket, 8 ball Pool, Carrom and more. The brand also offers exciting money based rewards if you are one of the top players on the leaderboard. From cash contests to various curated tournaments, the brand offers multiple engagement points for its consumers to engage and earn in real time.
Part of All India Gaming Federation, Winzo offers gaming in 12 languages, guarantees 100% security and legality of their game offerings, 24 hour customer support and has a 7.5 crore user base. Known to be the first and the largest vernacular gaming platform in India aiming to target tier 2,3 and 4 towns and villages, Winzo is a success story that was kickstarted in 2018 and is growing a steady user base across the nation.
A cricket bat motion sensor that is changing the game is one of the key innovations of Str8bat. The sensor has the ability to track your performance and live data points, stats and insights into your play. This helps a player to elevate their game by improving their performance in batting based on parameters such as shots, timing, bat angle, speed and more. With a yearly subscription based offering on their revolutionary sensor, they are supported by a large number of professional players across the globe.
Based in New Delhi, Stupa Analytics is a global analytics company.
They are re-designing and re-imagining the sport with the aim to enhance sports performance for players and their teams. Working with real-time stats, auto-replays, AR/VR, analytics, graphics and predictive analysis, they aim to offer consumers and fans phenomenal experiences. Their product range/ service offerings include;
A- Performance based services: Data driven analysis to unlock the maximum potential for coaches and players.
B- Event based services: Offers event promoters a web based platform to digitize the tournament with automated handling and monetization.
C- Cast/ Recap to social media based service: To enhance the viewing experience for fans, the brand offers AR-based real time graphics with a touch of creativity as recaps/ highlights or key points. They also offer end-to-end social media content solutions.
A cricket training platform that offers an analytical system consisting of a video analysis and motion tracking. It offers players, clubs and associations, coaches and teams the opportunity to review, track and enhance their performance with technology available at their fingertips. From ICC to English Cricket Board, many leading leagues have benefited from their innovative technology. Their revolutionary development in tech is claimed to be easy to use, quick to set up and install anywhere. It offers an analytical report highlighting every aspect of performance that has come into play.
While these are some leading brands in the sports tech sector, it is also vital to acknowledge multiple brands that are working at a small scale making a large impact in niche sports. From niche gaming and data analytics, journalism, broadcasting to much more. These include; Rummy Adda, Kabaddi Adda, KOOH sports, Sportskeeda, Tenvic, and more.
Read More: Kabaddi: India’s Fastest Growing Sport
The Indian Gambling Law: Online gaming and Regulations
The Public Gambling Act 1867, is the only law that regulates the online gaming sector in India. The act bans individual gaming done in gaming centers to make profits. It differentiates gaming into two aspects: Games of chance and Games of skill.
As the name suggests, game of chance is pure luck with no prior skills required, these are recognized by the government as gambling while games of skill are based on strategies, a particular learning of skill and thus are permitted by the law. This law however does not deal with online gaming, and offers the nation (India) the opportunity to engage and play games of skills and chance. As an example, it is illegal to play Teen patti ( a card game) in casinos – since it is considered a game of chance, however it is widely played online. Similarly games like Blackjack, poker and slot machines are all legal to play online as well as conveniently available.
While most brands offering these online hosted their website from outside of India, the law was thus not applicable to them. In recent times however, many state governments have taken up the online gambling petitions filed to make amendments to the 1867 gambling law to introduce online gaming policies. From Telegana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujrat, Tamil Naidu and others, many states prohibited online gaming and betting online. Led to ban and restrictions on games for over 130 apps including Adda52, Mobile Premier League, Poker Stars and many more. ( Games included more play on card games – Rummy, Poker, Blackjack and more)
The online gaming industry in this legal battle has kept it’s focus on a solutions oriented approach to solve issues with the government. Some of the leading gaming associations and bodies have built self-regulatory bodies that work on frameworks and aim to get them recognized by the state. These bodies and leading brands have built case studies for the government to understand the benefits. Example, the industry also leads to an increase in overall state revenue and brings employment to many people in the state.
Since the online gaming industry is new-age, tech driven and digital in nature, a regulatory body with detailed framework is the demand and need of the online gaming industry rather than a complete ban.
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Sports Tech and Employability
Technology will keep evolving and with each innovation, there will be changes in the way we consume and view sports. Brands will evolve with time and change the way we engage and experience sports as fans as well as change how athletes train and compete. Technology is not simply changing and influencing the way we indulge and experience sports, but it’s also creating new sports solutions. These aid in bringing a shift in the sector, promoting healthy competition, leading to increase in employment opportunities.
The key trends for the sports tech industry at the moment are fan engagement based platforms, fantasy sports and sports booking facility platforms. This also directly reflects the growing demand of a sector for sports professionals. Opportunities in the sports sector are varied, some of these include: technical sales engineer, data analytics, facility / operations manager, client engagement and bookings, sales and sponsorships, partnerships/ alliances, sports law experts, R&D scientists and specialists, coaches, fitness experts and more.
Read More: 5 emerging careers in Sports Management
A degree in Sports Management ( MBA) can offer you a direct entry into the lucrative and globally connected sports industry. From being part of a leading brand to working with start-ups, you will have the opportunity to learn from a range of innovative brands that are shaping the future of sports.
Visit the MBA-ESG Sports Management MBA page for more details.