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We will be back on IPL media properties whenever the league returns: Abhishek Madhavan, Mobile Premier League
Abhishek Madhavan, Senior Vice President, Growth and Marketing, MPLBI India Partner
During IPL 2020, the number of fantasy gamers on MPL increased by 7 times compared to pre-IPL
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We will be back on IPL media properties whenever the league returns: Abhishek Madhavan, Mobile Premier League

During IPL 2020, the number of fantasy gamers on MPL increased by 7 times compared to pre-IPL
  • Mobile Premier League had plans of spending 40% of its marketing budget on IPL this year.
  • With the suspension of the league, we speak to Abhishek Madhavan, Senior Vice President, Growth and Marketing, MPL who tells us how the brand plans to communicate with its consumers now, and what its plans to grow the business further is.
The gaming and esports sector in India has been witnessing good growth in India, thanks to improved accessibility in technology and cheaper internet. That investors and venture capitalists are putting in monies in the sector is further proof that there is a huge opportunity.

A recent report by Maple Capital Advisors stated that the Indian gaming sector saw investments of around $544 million between the August 2020 and January 2021 period, a number that is expected to double over the next 12-18 months on the back of higher user awareness and accelerated engagement.

Over the past few years, we have seen a number of e-gaming players enter the market. Many of these have been spending substantial amounts on advertising too. One such player, Mobile Premier League (MPL), announced in February this year that it had raised $95 million in a Series D round of funding, bringing its value to $945 million after raising.

With this fresh round of funding, MPL planned to expand its eSports portfolio and bolster its efforts to organize more eSports tournaments nationally and internationally at scale. It is also looking at accelerating its international expansion this year. Last month, MPL also acquired esports gaming platform GamingMonk that hosts esports tournaments across multiple platforms.

MPL had invested on the Indian Premier League last year and reaped impressive results, it saw the number of gamers on its platform go up 7X post IPL so this year too, the platform had launched an aggressive campaign to grab maximum eyeballs during the league. However, with the suspension of the league, how does it impact its marketing plans for the rest of the year? We spoke to Abhishek Madhavan, Senior Vice President, Growth and Marketing, MPL who told us how the year has been so far for the platform and what more we can expect from it through the rest of the year.

Excerpts:

Q) We had thought 2020 was a difficult year but 2021 has been an even difficult one so far. How has the year been so far for MPL from a business standpoint?
It’s been quite a year in general. What the country is witnessing is unprecedented and right now, our focus is on trying to do our bit in helping out and ensuring that our employees and their families are safe.

Q) In terms of growth, the pandemic had led to a lot of people staying at home, exploring newer ways of keeping themselves entertained and fantasy gaming benefited from that. What kind of growth have you witnessed in the last one year?
Last year’s lockdown due to the pandemic was a black swan event that nobody could have foreseen. Yet, it did help the gaming industry as people explored their skills by taking to gaming platforms from their homes. However, pure fantasy apps were affected due to the lack of live sporting action last year.

That being said, we added over 3 crore users on MPL last year.

Q) You were supposed to spend 40% of our ad budget on IPL. As the league stands postponed indefinitely, how are you modifying your marketing plans for the rest of the year?
We will be back on IPL media properties whenever the league returns. However, since our business is not IPL dependent, we are looking at other conventional media channels to run our brand campaigns on, at the moment.

Q) You had an aim of increasing your user base to 10 crore by the end of the league. How do you aim to achieve this target now?
We are a gaming platform. And while the IPL definitely helps us, what we offer our users goes beyond just fantasy sports. There are over 50 games on MPL across categories like esports, casual, fantasy, etc, and once things get better for the country, you will hear from us on our campaigns. Right now, our focus is on helping the situation get better in whatever way we can.

Q) What kind of growth had you seen from associating with IPL last year?
Last year’s IPL broke viewership records and we too benefited from our partnerships and associations with teams such as KKR and RCB. We engaged our gamers with activities such as player meet-and-greets, special contests, and giveaways.

During IPL 2020, the number of fantasy gamers on MPL increased by 7 times compared to pre-IPL, and the number of daily installs of the MPL app increased by 100% compared to pre-IPL 2020.

Q) In the last few years, there has been a boom of fantasy gaming platforms in India. How are you differentiating yourself?
We are a full-fledged gaming platform with a 365-day value proposition and we aren’t a fantasy app that is dependent on sport seasons or leagues. With our wide variety of games and features, we attract a wide range of users above the age of 18, going all the way to ages 60 and above. Gamers can find all kinds of games on our platform, along with social features to connect with the gaming community. We are also organising fortnightly esports tournaments in games such as Chess, World Cricket Championship, etc, and entry to these tournaments is absolutely free, with lakhs in prize money up for grabs. We are also live-streaming these tournaments to millions of viewers through our social media handles.

Q) Where do you think MPL's next phase of growth will come from?
Esports is currently on the upswing in India and across the world. We think India has an abundance of talent in esports and mobile esports is the best way forward in recognising and honing this vast talent pool. Esports being recognised by traditional sports competitions like the Asian Games is a big boost for this sector. We aim to take esports to the masses via our mobile application and are geared for the growth coming in from this sector.

Q) Will you continue with your Hain Akal Khelo MPL campaign despite IPL's suspension considering it had been gaining traction?
The core message behind the ‘Hain Akal Khelo MPL’ campaign is that fantasy sports require skill and knowledge of the game. While we launched it along with the IPL, the campaign continues to run as the core message applies to all fantasy sports.

Q) What is your vision for MPL? Where do you want to see it in the next few years?
We want to be the world’s biggest esports and skill gaming platform. That is the vision we have right from the start and we feel India is poised to become a global leader in esports.

We have a great number of skilled game developers who can make games for the world and we have so many gamers who are waiting for an opportunity to excel in esports. By bringing them together on our platform, we can exhibit India’s prowess to the world. Our Indonesia business is doing really well and this has encouraged us to plan to expand to other geographies as we march towards realizing our vision.