March 16, 2023

FanCode has so far been focused on building the cricket vertical streaming. In 2023, The Dream Sports-owned platform is aiming to stream half of the total matches on hockey, tennis, basketball, kabaddi, etc.

For the co-founders of FanCode, sports are in their hearts—and walls. Its office in Mumbai is plastered with quotes from celebrated players, while the flooring resembles green football turf.

Yannick Colaco and Prasana Krishnan have spent over a decade working in the sports media space. While Colaco, a former national-level basketball player, headed NBA’s India team, Krishnan, who spent over three years at now-defunct Nimbus Sports, headed Sony’s sports business cluster.

With consumers not able to find a venue to watch non-mainstream sports tournaments, the duo founded the sports streaming platform FanCode in 2019.

“The bigger sports events have many followers. But the reality is that every sports event doesn’t need to have 100 million people watching it for it to be successful,” Co-founder Colaco tells YourStory. He explains that rather than going after the big fish, the platform streams many smaller tournaments— which could attract around 100,000 viewers each.

Run by Sporta Technologies, FanCode streams many niche sports tournaments including the PGA Tour (golf), Saudi Cup horse racing tournament, Pakistan Super League, and Bangladesh Premier League. Now, it is placing focus on verticals including hockey, tennis, basketball, kabaddi, rugby, and volleyball.

Tryst with cricket

Colaco says for the last two years, the streaming platform focused on building cricket as a vertical. In 2022, it hosted about 6,500 live sports events, out of which 4,500 were cricket matches. “We knew we needed to get the sports experience right for the viewers,” he explains.

By focusing on a single vertical, the platform worked to provide a seamless watching experience by clearing out any kinks such as quality of feeds, camera angles, replay, card graphics, and integrity of scoring, among other things.

With many of its viewers watching on smartphones, it was important for FanCode to prepare for network issues and offer the option for quick replay. It enables commentary in different languages for certain tournaments, and also has a feature akin to YouTube Premium where users can choose to close the video and just listen to the commentary.

Beyond cricket, FanCode is planning to stream about 20,000 sports matches out of which 10,000 would be towards building other sports verticals. It has already started streaming some tournaments in the new sports categories.

In January this year, the Dream Sports (Sporta Technologies) subsidiary streamed the Hockey World Cup, ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup, and EuroLeague basketball tournament.

“Women’s sports is a big focus for us this year,” says Colaco. Last year, the platform streamed over 500 live matches of women’s sport events across football, cricket, hockey and rugby. Currently, Fancode is streaming Women’s Super League (WSL), among other women’s sports tournaments.

In February, the platform also tied up with Google Cloud to access consumer data to build fan engagement. FanCode will build capabilities to match audiences with relevant sports and create engagement through personalised merchandise, content and commerce.

The platform claims to access Google’s solutions and infrastructure to launch India vs West Indies bilateral series, which was streamed last year.

FanCode’s audience

It was the consumer feedback that pushed the team to bring new sports tournaments as well as micro pricing subscription packs. “As a sports fan, there’s often a mismatch between what you want and what streaming products are pushed towards you. For instance, you want to watch the finals of Carabao Cup, you shouldn’t be forced to pay a monthly or an annual subscription. We innovated to bring out tour, match, and even monthly passes on our platform,” says Krishnan.

The packs start from Rs 69 for a tour pass and Rs 199 for a month, which gives users access to all the tournaments. These prices are also dynamic and could change depending on tournaments.

Suhas Shivanna, a Mumbai-based disc jockey (DJ), found the platform when he wanted to watch 100-ball cricket—a new cricket format.

“You could just subscribe to a tournament and as soon as it gets over, the plan also ends. I like how it is up to me to choose another sport again and become a subscriber just for those few months,” Shivanna says.

Colaco says the platform reached the target it had set last year of onboarding 100 million users through India and West Indies White Ball Cricket Series. “We want to attract more users on the platform, and we are building new verticals to meet that goal. But we also want to keep the existing users engaged on the platform,” he explains.

While Fancode targets sports viewers across all ages, in February, 42.51% of the users were between 18-24 years, followed by 25-34 year-olds at 30.55%, according to data from Similarweb. Last month, the platform also had 3.6 million visits compared to 3.2 million in January, and 2.4 million in December 2022.

Fancode currently competes with VU Sport– Fantasy Akhada’s live sports streaming YouTube channel– in the niche sports category, and JioCinema, Disney+ Hotstar, and Sony, among other streaming platforms.

The sports fantasy games market is at Rs 34,600 crore, expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38%, according to Deloitte.