The founders of FanCode have an ambitious plan — build India’s largest sports fan platform

FanCode, a key brand of Dream Sports, is aiming for a user base of 100 million and plans to achieve this through deeper engagement with digital technologies to provide the right experience.
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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while most live sports viewing might have paused due to lockdowns and social distancing, fans across the world have been able to experience their favourite matches in real-time thanks to digital technologies.

It is to these fans that FanCode is now aiming to bring newer innovations to make them more connected to their favourite games and players. FanCode is a digital sports platform under Dream Sports, the sports technology unicorn startup in India.

“Our vision is to build India’s largest sports fan platform,” says Yannick Colaco, Co-founder of FanCode.

Founded in 2019, the platform claims to have acquired 20 million users by catering to varying needs in multiple categories.

So far, FanCode has partnered with global sports brands such as the NFL, MLB, Cricket West Indies, New Zealand Cricket, the NBA, Bundesliga, and multiple IPL teams including Mumbai Indians, and live-streamed nearly 30,000 hours of sports content.

Focus segments

FanCode provides its services in three main areas: live content, sports statistics and analysis, and commerce.

It has live streaming, subscriptions of matches and tour passes, a merchandise store, a hub for data and statistics, live commentary, expert opinions, news etc.

Yannick says, “There were two fundamental insights when we started FanCode — a culture of sports was seeping into the audiences and technology allowed you to deliver the right experience to these fans.”

He feels digital technologies have unlocked the potential of delivering a newer experience to sports fans. For example, radio commentary in the present times does not need heavy infrastructure investment and can be done from one’s living room by leveraging technology.

To help fans access data or analysis while watching a live match, the startup had acquired FanDuniya, a specialist in sports research, in 2020.

Funding boost

According to Yannick, there wasn’t any major impact because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the founder says the adoption and consumption of the platform’s content only accelerated during this period.

Towards this end, earlier in May, it secured an investment of $50 million from its parent company Dream Sports.

At the time, Harsh Jain, Co-founder and CEO of Dream Sports, had noted, “We are happy to support FanCode’s efforts in scaling up the business and making sports more accessible to over 800 million fans in India.”

The investment is expected to provide a boost to FanCode as it seeks to expand and make deeper engagement with the sports fans in the country by doubling its headcount on technology talent from the present 100 and look at hiring the best engineering talent.

According to Prasana Krishnan, Co-founder of FanCode, the startup is constantly experimenting with newer technologies and seeks to build the right personalised experience for its customer base.

“The intersection of sports and technology is very interesting. At FanCode, we always strive to bring value to our users,” he says.

The sport of cricket is a big draw for FanCode

Democratic platform

FanCode ensures democratisation of the entire journey of how a fan engages with a sport. It also seeks to lower the entry barrier for fans through various subscription services.

“One could watch some games on our platform for as little as Rs 4,” says Yannick.

FanCode has both paid and free services, and also offers subscription services under various packages.

The founder claims that the startup’s users are spread across metros, Tier-I, II and III locations, and believe there is significant demand from consumers in the non-metro regions.

As Prasana says, “The divide between India and Bharat is not so prevalent for us and our platform is fairly democratic.”

The market segment addressed by FanCode is quite extensive — involving both media spends on sports, as well as the sale of merchandise that includes primarily apparel and footwear.

In 2020, GroupM ESP, the entertainment, esports, and sports division of GroupM India, estimated that the Indian sports industry was worth Rs 5,894 crore. This takes into account sponsorship spends, celebrity endorsement, and media spends on sports properties.

The sports apparel market was valued at around $3 billion in 2019 and projected to grow to $5.4 billion by 2027, according to industry estimates.

FanCode competes with the likes of digital platforms that provide similar services include Cricbuzz, Espncricinfo, Goal, The Fan Garage etc.

Future plans

Going forward, FanCode will continue to largely focus on the Indian market and does not have any immediate plans of expanding overseas geography as it believes the opportunity is quite significant within the country.

It has now set its ambition higher, and aims to garner over 100 million user base by next July, with deeper engagement and newer innovations. Despite cricket being the dominant sport followed by its user base, the startup sees opportunity in a multi-sport approach.

For FanCode, the scaling game has just started, and as Yannick puts it, “Our DNA lies in finding customers’ problem statement, and using technology to build solutions and ramp them up immediately.”

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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