“We Built A Direct-To-Consumer Company That Uses Technology To Provide Sports Fans With A Unified Experience”

November 18, 2020

With two decades of experience in the sports and media industry, Yannick Colaco co-founded FanCode in March 2019. FanCode is India’s premier digital sports destination committed to giving all fans a highly personalised experience across Content, Community and Commerce. iSPORTCONNECT spoke with Yannick to know about latest partnerships and ambitions of the organisation.

Tell us about Fancode.

Sports fans in India are largely underserved due to limited access to global sports events, and even the experience around accessible events is very fragmented across multiple platforms. To solve for that, FanCode was launched in March 2019 as India’s premier digital sports destination committed to giving all fans a highly personalized experience across Content, Community and Commerce. We already have over 1.5 crore sports fans on our platform engaging in a great experience across 9 sports through interactive live streaming, sports fan merchandise (FanCode Shop), fastest interactive live match scores, comprehensive live commentary, fantasy sports data and statistics (Fantasy Research Hub), expert fantasy tips, sports news and much more.

Dream Sports, India’s leading Sports Technology company, is the parent company of FanCode which also houses brands such as Dream11 and DreamX in its portfolio. 

How do you aim to unlock the potential of digital for sports consumers?

Technology has provided us the tools to significantly improve sports fan experiences. We launched FanCode to build a direct-to-consumer company that uses technology to provide sports fans with a unified experience platform across their needs. From watching a game, to engaging with like minded fans, to buying merchandise of their favourite team and player, our goal is to be a destination where sports fans come for everything sport. And we can only achieve this by innovating rapidly to constantly add value to our consumers.

Since 2019, we have introduced key features like fastest live scores and interactive live streaming. We’ve also customised our premium offerings by allowing consumers to buy streaming access for individual games and tournaments, instead of only the onerous monthly or annual platform subscription. This also helped us to lower the entry price point for fans of sports content, which further enabled growth of the consumer base.  We are continually identifying accessibility gaps, and introducing solutions through services. For instance, we recently acquired sports research platform FanDuniya to build our technology capabilities in becoming a single destination for sports data and statistics offering through Fantasy Research Hub for all sports fans, especially the fastest growing fantasy sports user base.

FanCode has further launched a FanCode Shop for merchandising licensing. What has been the response from that vertical?

Globally, sports fan merchandise as a category means big business. In India, it still hasn’t seen that level of success due to various reasons, and the biggest one is the lack of availability of mass market merchandise. We either have the top-end official merchandise that is priced very high, or poor-quality fakes. With the FanCode Shop, we aim to bring access to affordable and authentic sports fan merchandise that caters and appeals to the mass market. Having launched this IPL with official partnership with 6 IPL teams, the idea was to get the strategy right. And with the response received, we could tell it’s working! In the next phase, we will expand our product range and introduce innovations to deliver rapid turnaround times in both the creation and distribution of fan gear, ensuring that fans will have the latest, most topical designs of their favourite sports brands and teams.

You’ve recent joined partnerships with the Bundesliga and CPL, tell us more about these.

India’s appetite for sports is constantly on a rise which is really important to become a multi-sport nation. And FanCode has always committed to bring depth and breadth to the sports experience in India by promoting a multi-sport culture through digital innovations which made us partner with leagues and associations including the top three American Leagues across sports categories – Major League Baseball (MLB), National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA).

With Bundesliga and CPL, we became the exclusive fan destination for these big leagues providing comprehensive coverage through live streaming, game highlights, news, live blog commentary, extensive fantasy research resources and much more. We also introduced industry first features like Match & Tour Pass where fans could now have the choice and flexibility to subscribe to the specific content they want, match-wise or the entire tournament. 

What do you think is the new normal for the sports industry?

The pandemic has driven the sports ecosystem to reimagine the fan experience by adopting digital-first means and build personalization catering to every fan. Since there aren’t enough digital platforms in India opting for user-first experiences, sports fan engagement continues to be an untapped segment with high growth potential. The way even the engagement was offered by all parties during the IPL including the broadcaster, teams, brands and players, it is an indicator of the new-found acceptance towards digital innovations. Forging deep and direct fan relationships will be a crucial differentiator in the long run for the industry, and we are building this base for the next leap.

You were leading the NBA in India. What prompted you to launch FanCode.

I’ve always been extremely passionate about Sports and have been fortunate to work throughout my professional career in this industry. To be very honest, when Prasana and I first thought about working together to set this up, we were primarily trying to solve our own problems as sports fans. We’ve been very fortunate to be backed by Dream Sports, a company whose own DNA is entirely about solving sports fan problems, and to have built a diverse team of FanCoders who are all deeply passionate fans themselves. It is almost like sports fans giving back to sports, and at the same time selfishly innovating to make the experience better for sports fans like us.

How has the transition been from being a sportsperson to the sports management side? What have been the learnings?

I think being involved with and playing sports teaches you so much that is applicable to both your personal and professional life. It’s even more important for younger children in helping inculcate positive values like teamwork, commitment, strategy, learning how to win and lose, hardwork and much more. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been exposed to a wide variety of sports while growing up and I hope that I can continue to inculcate the learnings I’ve got from the sport field in everything I do.