Just Mobile's Wong makes a pivot to fantasy sports: Page 2 of 2
By Karamjit Singh November 29, 2013
Malaysia a major market
Surprisingly, many of those fans come from Malaysia, with the country ranked as having the third highest participation in fantasy football with 156,000 users, according to premierleague.com. [Perhaps this is where long-suffering Malaysian fans go to ease the pain of a football team languishing in the bottom rungs of FIFA rankings.]
A sportsman himself, having represented his state in fencing and cycling, Wong saw the opportunity in fantasy sports, a market that is well established in the United States, where it is estimated to be worth anywhere from US$3 billion to US$4 billion he says, with the estimate coming from a Wikipedia article.
However a check on the subject reveals that some interest is picking up in Europe with online betting company Betwayis sponsoring Trinity’ Mirror’s fantasy football competition in a three-year deal worth £600,000 (RM3.1 million).
Meanwhile, it took less than two weeks for CBS and Yahoo Sports to sell all their fantasy football online ads, with sponsorship values ranging from high six figures to US$3 million (RM9.7 million) each.
“It is beginning to gain some traction in Europe, while in Asia it is practically non-existent,” says Wong.
This is where he sees opportunity, especially after having witnessed the interest among sports fans in the region through the contract work he did for clients, starting with a mobile-based fantasy sports game for Maxis in 2007/08. He then quickly moved on to other platforms, mainly Facebook and websites.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup (pic) then saw Wong launch his own fantasy game on Facebook. The response was thrilling.
“We had up to 2,000 concurrent users playing the game and we had to restart our server every hour,” he claims. It opened his eyes to the potential of the market.
But business was good just being a white label for clients. “We used to do lots of white labelling work, and the margins were more than 50% as the engine used was the same, we just had to skin the games differently,” he says. The engine was built in-house with a team of five developers and was ready in early 2007.
In 2008 his attention was diverted because of a US$108,000 (RM350,000) grant won to design an interactive TV game show that ran on 8TV called You Play You Win. The grant was given by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
But Euro 2012 saw 65,000 users over two months coming to website Wong built to capitalise on the event.
This year, he again won another grant from the MCMC, via its Content Industry Development Fund, worth US$309,000 (RM1 million) to develop fantasy sport games for platforms such as Smart TVs and for other sports such as rugby, rally and cricket.
As with all grants, he has to meet milestones to get disbursements. At the same time, Smart TVs are not an easy market, as Wong explains that even within a single manufacturer like Samsung, there is no standardised platform, with various Smart TV’s having different technical requirements for apps.
But with a bigger team in place – he has 25 people now – winning this grant will not distract Wong from trying to grab as much market share in Asia as possible, and he is even looking beyond this region to Europe and South America.
“I have hired a Paraguayan who is based in my Kuala Lumpur office to help me penetrate that market,” he says, confident that he will make inroads there based on the wins he has already secured in Asia.
Now to raise that RM3 million he needs.
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