‘Online gaming has seen a renewed interest during the pandemic’: Amit Burman

‘Online gaming has seen a renewed interest during the pandemic’: Amit Burman


Chairman of homegrown FMCG major Dabur, Amit Burman is the promoter of the Poker Sports League (PSL), one of the world’s leading leagues in terms of prize pool and participation. He talks to TOI about how the pandemic affected the league and the way forward. Excerpts:
PSL was launched to establish poker as a mind sport in the country, have you been able to achieve that and how has the journey been so far?
Poker Sports League has played a pivotal role in increasing poker’s popularity in India. Being India’s first poker league and the world’s biggest poker league in terms of prize pool and participation, PSL has enhanced the game’s mass appeal by taking it on national television during the past seasons. Furthermore, our association with the grand master Viswanathan Anand has helped in establishing poker as a mind sport and encouraging more and more poker enthusiasts to join the league.
Transaction-based skill games grew 50% in 2019, wherein mind games like poker grew by around 30% as per the EY-FICCI Frames report. While certain sections of the society have understood the skill aspect of poker, a complete perception change will take a lot more time to filter down to the masses.
With regards to our journey that started way back in 2016 with a mission to sportify the game of poker through a unique, team-based format has been extremely fruitful and rewarding so far. Over the years we have hosted three seasons, broadcasted the league, associated with leading brands and individuals to break the stereotypes revolving around poker and educate people on the skills required to play the sport.
This year the league is virtual due to the pandemic, how has the response been so far? Do you plan to continue the virtual format or go back to the on-ground league?
It was unfortunate that due to the pandemic we couldn’t go ahead with season 3 earlier this year. However, now with Poker Sports League – Virtual Season 3 (PSL-V), we are thrilled to bring forth the season in a new format that has revolutionized the way poker tournaments will be seen in India. With a unique integration of video within the live stream, the new format allows viewers to witness the thrill and excitement of a live game virtually.
This year the league was to initially be played between six teams, however, with the overwhelming response received from the recently concluded online qualifiers and the exhibition tournament – Virtual Poker League we have now extended a chance to poker enthusiasts across other cities, to partner with PSL for two more teams. Moreover, with the growing potential of online gaming in India, I am positive for an increased participation and have signed a contract with these 6 team owners for 10 seasons, for the next five years.
You recently announced that PSL is in talks with several OTT platforms, how do you see that affecting the league? For us at Mind Sports League, tying up with an OTT platform is of utmost importance as the majority of our existing and potential audiences are millennials and tech-savvy young adults under 35 years of age. To be able to reach out to them and also taking into consideration the increased viewership of digital platforms in the recent past, it is essential that we close-in on a streaming partner soon.
According to the latest report by TV monitoring agency BARC and data measurement firm Nielsen, video streaming makes up 15% of the total time spent on smartphones. Our association with an OTT platform will definitely provide the sponsors with a better branding platform due to the significant shift of eyeballs to digital platforms
Online gaming and streaming have seen a new boom in times of the pandemic, has that affected the sponsorships and investors? Yes, we have actually observed a renewed interest in these last few months. As a company into live gaming, our focus was completely on live events, live streaming and we were also going to get into live learning with our proprietary mobile application – Hashtag Poker – Learn. Watch. Play. However, during the pandemic, when almost all the live games and events were shut down, we as a company were able to pivot and move every single aspect of our business online. This is one facet that has proved to be really positive for the investors. They came across a team that was agile and could completely switch and adapt to the need of the hour. Therefore, in terms of investors, I feel they are really happy and there has been an increased interest. Being the main promoter of the company and PSL, I am extremely proud of how the team has turned around the present situation in our favor.
As for the sponsorships, as mentioned earlier, with our plans to organize two seasons/leagues in a year, there will be ample branding and communication opportunities for all our sponsors. With live streaming, there will be increased visibility and more space for promotion in terms of the span of the event as well as the digital amplification.
To summarize, PSL has been a catalyst in the growth story and has led to an impactful and noticeable improvement in monetization while adapting to the changing circumstances. This is not just lucrative for active players, but also for the industry operators to invest, to create, and to expand the ecosystem.
ASCI recently announced guidelines for gaming ads in India, how will it impact the marketing strategy for PSL? Considering the long-term growth and sustainability of the industry, promoting responsible gaming is imperative and I think the new guidelines are quite clear and straightforward. The marketing strategies for PSL will not change since we are not a real money platform and never plan to be. Our focus is to promote poker for the fun and social bonding aspect of the business. But this may affect sponsorship revenue since most of the potential sponsors for PSL are real money gaming platforms.
Gaming is becoming more interactive, immersive, and social, how is PSL keeping up with it? What kind of support does the gaming platforms need from telecoms in terms of bandwidth speed and network stability? I would say we are doing pretty well. Coming up with the virtual format with a unique integration of video within the live stream is an absolute breakthrough because it has never been attempted anywhere else in the world.



Source link

1business1_lm15r8

1business1_lm15r8

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *