The world battled COVID-19 with all their might, there were some folks out there who silently did their bit for the community. At a time when many businesses shut down and the economy took a hit, there was an industry that saw a huge surge. Yes, we are talking about the Indian fantasy sports industry. COVID-19 induced lockdown kept the population indoors and people had to turn to online gaming as means of entertainment were terribly restricted. Fantasy sports came to the rescue of those who were ready to try out something new as traditional entertainment and even sporting events were shut down.
A FICCI-EY report stated how the Indian fantasy sports industry was worth ₹6,500 crore in 2019 and is touted to hit ₹18,700 crore by 2022. A report by KPMG stated that the IPL fantasy league has the might to nail the $1 billion mark. News of fantasy sports giant Dream 11 raising $225 million in September 2020 brought a wave of cheer among those hoping this industry would thrive like never before.
But raising money, generating revenue and capturing the market was not the only thing these fantasy sports giants did. They also gave back to the community. Gutshot spoke to OpenPlay Tech and BlitzPools to understand how these fast-growing brands pulled up their socks to make sure they help and provide aid to those who were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We quizzed Sreeram Reddy Vanga, Founder, OpenPlay to know what the platform did when the pandemic hit hard. Vanga said the brand made sure its employees were working from home even before ‘work from home’ was announced by the government. The top boss at OpenPlay Tech also highlighted how the management put a medical insurance in place for its employees and their families on top of the general health insurance provided by the firm. Vanga said the brand was in process to finalize a partner hospital in Hyderabad to make sure that their employees are vaccinated along with their respective family members.
We next spoke to Vickram Assomull, co-founder, BlitzPools. We were intrigued to find out more about the brand’s COVID-19 relief work. Assomull stated that BlitzPools hosted Free Pools on its platform for players and the brand contributed ₹5 to each team in a bid to generate as much aid as possible. The Free Pools were eventually named COVID-19 Relief.
The brand generated ₹1.1 Lakh in donations. BlitzPools tied up with the Helping Hands Foundation to contribute towards the COVID-19 relief work. With the help of this foundation, BlitzPools was able to provide aid in the form of food to the marginalised communities and also those suffering from cancer.
The BlitzPools co-founder also highlighted how their brand ambassadors came forward to help and stepped up to make sure they did their bit for the community. Apart from these two brands, fantasy sports giant Dream11 donated ₹15 crore to the GiveIndia and ACT Grants to aid the COVID-19 relief response efforts. This brand also partnered with Zomato for ‘feed the daily wager’ initiative.
Mobile Premier League tied up with GiveIndia for its initiative ‘Gamers For India fundraiser.’ MPL generated ₹81 Lakh from which ₹75 Lakh was donated by MPL Esports for the COVID-19 relief work. Indian cricketer Virat Kohli and wife Anushka Sharma started an initiative called #InThisTogether in partnership with crowd-funding firm Ketto. The husband-wife duo donated ₹5 crore to the COVID-19 cause with the help of this campaign.
We hope that the fantasy sports industry continues to do the good work it has been doing in such difficult times. Not just the fantasy sports brands but even their players have done exceptionally well in their own way to make sure that the people out there who were badly hit by the pandemic get every possible help.
With a Masters’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, Mrinal Gujare currently is cruising through an exciting genre of writing and editing at Gutshot Magazine. Apart from being an Editor, Mrinal is an avid reader and a former contemporary dancer. She is also perennially hungry for intriguing scoops from across the globe. No holds barred is the rule Mrinal follows in life.
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