Dream11 Case Study and Marketing Strategy – When Dream11 started its operations, little did anyone know what the future had in store for this fantasy gaming platform? Dream11 has more than 100 million users registered on its platform, up from a mere 2 million in 2016. There have been many driving factors behind this overwhelming success including, regular funding, partnership with cricketers for endorsements, top-notch marketing campaigns and the prize money involved.
In this post, we will take a detailed look at the success story of Dream11. Through a thorough Dream11 case study and marketing strategy, we will establish the factors that have led to its success in a relatively short span of time. Let us first take a look at its founders and their vision behind launching a fantasy gaming app in India.
The founders of Dream11
Dream11 is the brainchild of sports enthusiasts Harsh Jain and Bhavit Seth. While Harsh is an alumnus of the Columbia Business School and the University of Pennsylvania, Bhavit has completed his education from Bentley University and Harvard. The two are reportedly childhood friends and ardent sports fans.
The idea and vision behind Dream11
Co-founder Harsh is a huge fan of fantasy sports. According to an article in YourStory, Harsh has been playing English Premier League (EPL) Fantasy Football since 2001. When the IPL was launched in 2008, Harsh started to look for a fantasy platform for cricket. However, he was astonished to see that there was not even a single Cricket fantasy gaming platform at the time. As a fantasy lover, he was shocked to see this, considering the fact that Cricket is such a popular game in India.
This situation presented him with the idea of launching his own cricket fantasy app. He asked his friends to join him up in this effort and so came along his childhood friend, Bhavit. The duo co-founded Dream11 in 2009. But it wasn’t until 2012 that the app gained some recognition when it began offering freemium single-match contests to its users.
Dream11 Problems and Challenges Faced
Here are a few challenges faced by Dream11 over the last 12 years:
1) Bypassing the potential legal hurdle
Anything that comes even remotely near to gambling is usually made illegal in India. Dream11 too had to surpass this infamous tag of a “gambling app”. First, the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed a petition against it calling it a “game of skill”, which was followed by the Supreme Court’s approval.
The removal of any legal hurdles meant that more fantasy platforms could enter the market. As a result, the Indian fantasy gaming industry now has more than 70 players! The surge in the number of players has been possible because of India’s first and only sports gaming self-regulatory body, the Indian Federation of Sports and Gaming (IFSG), which came into force in the year 2017.
2) Removal from Play Store
Google has very stringent policies about the apps that can be uploaded on its app better known by the name ‘Play Store’. In its days of infancy, “Dream11 Free” did not offer any paid contest. However, as soon as the app added paid contests, Google had to remove it as its Play Store policies do not allow such apps on its platform.
3) Convincing people that it’s a game of skill – not gambling!
It takes a broad mindset to see the differences between fantasy gaming and betting. In the initial days, without any brand ambassadors and funding, it was an uphill task for the company to market its product as a game of ‘skill.’ However, after the landmark ruling of Punjab and Haryana high court and the Supreme Court to allow the operations of the fantasy app, there has been a huge growth in the number of users and the platform has gained credibility too. Dream11 has now become a household name!
4) Outsmarting the emerging competition
Many fantasy gaming apps have emerged since 2019. But, none of them have been able to reach the benchmark set by Dream11. None of the apps is as fast, robust and intuitive as Dream11. The customer support offered through its app and social media is top-notch.
Dream11 Contest format
Only team sports such as Cricket, Football, Basketball, Volleyball, etc. are listed on Dream11. The platform doesn’t yet offer singles games such as Tennis, Table-Tennis, Badminton, etc.
Users of the app can enter free or paid contests. There’s a paid contest to suit every player’s budget and winnings expectations. Upon the completion of a paid contests, the prize money is distributed among the players “in the winning zone” as per the distribution mentioned across each contest before the match starts.
Users can make a number of “fantasy teams” comprising players from both sides. Each player is awarded certain points by the end of the match, based on certain performance metrics such as ‘runs scored’, ‘wickets taken’, ‘goals and assists”, ‘baskets scored’, etc. There are negative points as well for poor performances. Once all the points have been assigned, users can check their final rank in the leaderboard. There are “mega contests” as well, the winners of which can win lakhs and crores of cash prize, though mega contests have come under the scrutiny of a lot of users who think that many players in the mega contests are ‘bots’ and not actual human beings.
Furthermore, those who just want to test the waters, can enroll in ‘practice contests’ and learn how the whole process works. There is no prize money involved in the practice contests though.
Dream11 Revenue Model
Dream11 doesn’t generate revenue through ad networks such as Google Adsense. It generates its revenue from the joining fee of the contests that each user has to pay in order to participate in a paid public/private contest. Dream11 takes 15-25% of the total pool and this is the only way through which it generates its revenue.
Dream11 reported a net profit of INR 181 crore in FY2020. This feat helped it become one of the few Indian consumer-tech unicorns to have turned profitable. Notably, the company had recorded a loss of INR 87 crore in FY2019.
Dream 11 Funding
Dream 11 has raised funds through multiple rounds of funding since 2014. Come 2018, Sporta Technologies, the parent firm of Dream11 has been raising huge sums of money. For instance:
- September 2018 – Dream 11 raised $100 million from Tencent holdings
- April 2020 – Raised $60 million from Steadview Capital
- September 2021 – Raised $225 million in private equity round comprising Tiger Global Management, Chrys Capital, Footpath Ventures, and TPG.
- March 2021 – Raised $400 million in the Secondary Market consisting of investors – Falcon Edge Capital, D1 Capital Partners and TCV.
Dream11 Marketing Strategies
Dream11 spends the majority of its advertising budget on TV ads and digital marketing, especially social media advertisements. Here are a few notable marketing tactics that the company has used in recent times:
- Dream11 hired Khaby Lame as their new advertisement partner for the second leg of IPL, who is very popular on social media for his tik-tok videos. According to a report in a leading daily, Khaby Lame received INR 2 crore as part of the deal.
- The fantasy gaming platform became the official partner of IPL 2020 when Vivo pulled out for a year. Reportedly, Dream11 spent $2.2 billion to beat its competitors and finalize this deal.
- India’s #1 fantasy gaming app became the title sponsor of the domestic T20 tournament of New Zealand that goes by the name “Super Smash”, in 2019. The New Zealand Cricket Board has extended this relationship till 2026.
- The partnerships of Dream11 are not just limited to Cricket. In 2018, for instance, Dream 11 signed partnerships with the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), the World Basketball League (WBBL), the International Hockey Federation (FIH), and the British Basketball League (BBL).
- In 2017 too, Dream11 became the official sponsors of many major sports leagues – the most notable ones being Hero Caribbean Premier League and Hero Indian Super League, NBA.
Dream11 Awards & Achievements
- Dream 11 holds a Guinness World Record! The company achieved the incredible feat of the “largest online fantasy cricket match” during the 2019 IPL final between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK). As many as 1,03,17,928 teams were created by dream11 users for the competition. This was the first-ever Guinness World Record created in the online fantasy sports category.
- Dream11 was listed among the top 10 biggest and most popular trends of 2018, as per a Google report.
- The brand was among the top 42 innovative startups as per Inc42’s 42Next list
- Dream 11 clinched the 9th rank among India’s great Mid-Size workplaces, in 2018.
- It was honoured with the prestigious Red Herring Global 100 Award in 2013. The Red Herring Awards highlight the most exciting startups from Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Dream11 Interesting Facts & Stats
The journey of Dream11 has been quite fascinating. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting facts and stats about the #1 fantasy gaming app:
- The fantasy platform has nearly 100 million verified users
- The company claims to have grown at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 230% from 2018-2021
- Became a proud member of the Indian Unicorn club – the companies that reach the $1 billion valuation mark – in 2019
- Although the fantasy gaming platform took 3 years to reach the 1 million users mark, it took only 2 months to add 2 million more users.
Dream11 Top Competitors
Although Dream11 has the highest user base of all fantasy platforms, there are some emerging players that are providing decent competition to the former. Let’s take a look at the top competitors of Dream11:
- Paytm First Games
Dream11 Brand Ambassadors
Dream11 has so far appointed many Indian Cricket players as its brand ambassador. You will usually see multiple brand ambassadors of the fantasy gaming brand, especially during the IPL. The following cricketers have been the face of Dream11 on and off:
- MS Dhoni
- Rohit Sharma
- Shikhar Dhawan
- Rishabh Pant
- Hardik Pandya
- Shreyas Iyer
- Jasprit Bumrah
It is interesting to see that Virat Kohli has never featured in any ad for Dream11. He endorses dream11’s rival Mobile Premier League (MPL).
Is it safe to play on Dream11?
This question often crosses the mind of beginners who install the app for the first time. Dream11 is a legal fantasy gaming app; so you shouldn’t worry about its safety anymore. Fantasy sports though can be addictive and users must exercise caution and not over-indulge.
The landscape of fantasy sports has drastically changed over the last decade. New apps are entering the picture at a very rapid pace. As a result, the fantasy gaming industry has already started to become saturated. Innovation, however, is needed to bring some freshness. For instance, a fantasy app could also introduce singles games to make itself more appealing to the fans of badminton, tennis, etc.
All present-day rivals of Dream11 use a similar point system and interface, which makes many users lose interest in the first go itself as most of them are searching for something fresh. Despite the emergence of powerful rivals, Dream11 has only grown and that too by leaps and bounds.
The future of Dream11 looks very promising considering how commercialized every sport is getting. We hope that you got some great information from this case study of Dream11!