Dream Sports, the parent firm of fantasy sports app Dream11, has secured $225 million in a new financing round as the Mumbai-headquartered firm builds what it calls “end-to-end sports tech company” in the cricket-loving nation, which is also the world’s second largest internet market.
Tiger Global Management, TPG Tech Adjacencies (TTAD), ChrysCapital and Footpath Ventures financed $225 million in Dream Sports through primary and secondary investments, the 12-year-old Indian firm said.
The new round values Dream Sports at over $2.5 billion, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Dream11 has raised about $325 million to date.
Dream11 has cashed in on the popularity of cricket — a game that has attracted serious attention from several major firms including Disney and Facebook. Dream11 explores the fantasy part of it, allowing gamers to pick their choice of best players for an upcoming match. They can win cash prizes depending on how their selected team performs.
This year, Dream11 is also the title sponsor for the 2020 season of Indian Premier League cricket tournament, one of the most popular sporting events in the world. The startup won the rights, which was previously held by Chinese smartphone vendor Vivo, by bidding $30 million for it. Vivo had to abruptly back out of the sponsorship amid geo-political tension between the two nuclear-armed nations.
The new season of IPL kickstarts later this week after months of delay due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“The sports sector has high growth potential in India. There is a significant opportunity to enhance the fan experience and we are excited to partner with Dream Sports to leverage technology in ways that will deepen the connection between Indian fans and the sports they love,” said Akshay Tanna, Managing Director at TPG, in a statement.
In recent years, Dream Sports has expanded into additional categories such as merchandize. Harsh Jain, chief executive and co-founder of Dream Sports, claimed in a statement today that the startup had amassed over 100 million users. (Dream11 app is not on the Google Play Store and the startup relies on people either using its mobile web or sideload its Android app on to their phones.)
“As a homegrown Indian company, we are proud to continue adding value to our 10 crore Indian sports fans, investors, employees and the overall sports ecosystem in India. In the last two years, we have grown beyond fantasy sports to sports content, merchandise, streaming, experiences, and there is much more to come. Our vision is to ‘Make Sports Better’ for India and Indian fans through sports technology and innovation,” he added.
Avendus Capital was the financial advisor to Dream Sports on the transaction.
Dream11 isn’t the only firm building a niche in the fantasy sports space in India. Sequoia Capital India and Times Internet-backed Mobile Premier League is also a major player, which has expanded to traditional mobile games in recent months. Twitter-backed ShareChat also quietly began experimenting with fantasy sports earlier this year.
But fantasy sports is still facing some regulatory hurdles in parts of India. Several Indian states, including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Telangana, have banned fantasy sports betting.
“It doesn’t help matters either that the fantasy sports business’ attempts at legitimacy involve trying to be seen as video games — a cursory glance at a speakers panel for any Indian video game developer event is evidence of this — rather than riding on its own merits,” said Rishi Alwani, a long-time analyst of Indian gaming market and publisher of news outlet the Mako Reactor, in an earlier interview with TechCrunch.