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Sports Business Newscast Ep.38

The nexus between Sports and Business.

In episode 38 of Sports Business Newscast, I have updates on Legends League Cricket’s drive to raise $10 million funds and their plans on how they will utilise the funds, I also talk about how Indian gaming/streaming app Loco is quietly planning their international expansion and why it makes good business sense, I also talk about a breakthrough in sports content aggregation with two big players in India collaborating to share live sports content and I wrap up the episode with an update on how South Korea based Krafton is unphased by the high GST rates in India and plans to double their investment in Indian gaming/tech sector.

There is a lot to talk about so let’s get into the details….

The first update of episode 38 is from Cricket in India however, this time it’s not the BCCI, the World Cup or the IPL but it’s from the Legends League Cricket (LLC). As the name suggests, LLC is a T20 cricket league played by recently retired cricketers. Since its inception in 2022 the league owners ‘Absolute Legends Pvt Ltd’ have raised $7 million and are now looking to raise an additional fund of $10 million.

The money raised will be used to market the league and the remaining funds to develop stadiums. This particular utilisation of funds is very interesting. So, LLC plays the tournament in two legs at two different times a year. The franchise league leg is played in India and the LLC has selected stadiums in locations that don’t get too much exposure from other forms of commercial cricket. They play their matches in cities and towns like Ranchi, Dehradun, Vizag, Surat and Jammu. None of the cities have franchises in the IPL and don’t get too many India matches. According to Raman Raheja, Director and CEO of LLC, they need to spend to restore stadiums, he highlights that Jammu and Dehradun stadiums in particular need restoration to bring them back to International levels. This in my opinion is a master stroke considering LLC is taking cricket to places that are deprived of Live cricket and at the same time they are working with local authorities to improve stadium standards in a way that gives the cities entertaining matches by iconic legends like Harbhajan Singh, Chris Gayle etc and the improved stadiums allow the youth and kids to play in better conditions. 

The second update is about Indian game streaming companies expanding their reach into international markets. In the crowded space of game streaming where YouTube and Twitch are ruling the roots, two of India’s top homegrown streaming companies are quietly venturing into newer markets that are dominated by YouTube and Twitch. 

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Sticking to WinZO’s example, let me elaborate on why they are starting up in Brazil and why they are doing it in update number three. So, here are seven interesting statistics about WinZO’s Brazil plan is a smart move:

Brazil is the 4th largest mobile gaming market in the world with 90 million plus users. Also, in 2022 Brazil registered 4.6 billion game downloads on mobile phones. Statistics like these are a great prompt to consider it as a serious market.

WinZO have announced that they will invest $25 million in Brazil which will be spread across 100 partner game developers.

However, the main reason they are shifting base to Brazil is because of the 400% hike in GST. The tax they will be paying in Brazil is pegged between 2-5%  municipal tax on commissions earned by any company.

Loco, which is backed by investors like South Korean gaming giant Krafton and Indian gaming-focused venture firm Lumikai, quietly started testing its Arabic app in multiple West Asian countries a few months ago and, according to its co-founder Anirudh Pandita, plans to expand into Latin American countries next.

Loco’s Arabic version app is running in beta version in countries like Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia and according to the founder Anirudh Pandita, they have accumulated then’s thousands of users in Saudi Arabia and Egypt being their largest user base by far. It is also a fact that in countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the average revenue per user (ARPU) could be much higher than in India.

ARPU is a metric that indicates the value created by each user in a particular market over some time. It is calculated by dividing the total revenue generated by a user base in a set period by the number of users. To give you all a clear distinction on the ARPU difference – the average ARPU in India is in the range of Rs. 100 per month mainly from subscription and social gifting whereas user monetisation in countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE could reach upwards of $20 (Rs 1,660) per month as a result of higher disposable income levels.

Having said that, Anirudh believes that despite the ARPU difference the markets are similar in user choices of similarity in choice of games (PUBG, Freefire, Valorant) and most importantly culturally the markets are the same. The most important fact though is from the opportunities perspective. The timing of expansion in the Middle East is bang on the buck with Facebook gaming rolling back and the popular app Booyah! Exiting the region, the road to reaching out to new audiences is pretty straightforward. 

My third update is about Fancode and its partnership with Amazon India. Amazon Prime Video has announced FanCode, its first dedicated sports streaming channel. This channel will allow Indian users to watch domestic and global sports live. The company claims that it has partnered with marquee sports leagues and organisations and will bring over 15 different sports including cricket, football, rugby, kabaddi, basketball, and horse racing to sports fans in India. FanCode has streamed 45000 hours of live sports content in the past 4 years and has a very interesting offering of live sports rights including exclusive rights to ICC Pathways, Cricket West Indies, EFL, CONMEBOL, Volleyball World & FIBA. The Prime members will be able to watch the Carabao Cup, Women’s Big Bash League, FIFA U17 World Cup, Barclays Women’s Super League, AFC Champions League, AFC Cup, Yuva Kabaddi, and more. 

To avail access to all of the sporting events the buyers will need to have a subscription to Prime Video, which starts at Rs 249.

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Nilesh Deshmukh
I am passionate about sports and passionate about marketing. As a sports marketer, I have built significant expertise in successfully delivering medium to long term digital marketing strategy for global sports entities and brands like Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, Major League Baseball, Formula E, and AELTC, etc to engage with their fans in India. I am currently based in London and lead India business at Engage Digital Partners.