Game streaming and esports platform Rooter aims to increase the consumption of cricket-based esports tournaments in the country, as it looks to replicate the success the sport has witnessed in traditional formats in the country.
India's esports industry is currently dominated by the battle royale games such as Krafton's Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), Garena's Free Fire, and Activision's Call of Duty: Mobile in the country. (BGMI and Free Fire games are currently unavailable from the app marketplaces, but existing users can continue to play and stream these games to viewers)
"Cricket is a great sport, which binds the entire country together. If we are able to translate that experience into gaming and esports, we will be able to create an opportunity for the esports sector where people are not just relying on battle royale games" Rooter co-founder Piyush Kumar told Moneycontrol.
Kumar said they plan to host a series of cricket-based esports tournaments on the Rooter platform, that will coincide with the upcoming match fixtures of the Indian cricket team in the forthcoming future, starting with the ongoing Asia Cup tournament.
The first such tournament, called the Independence Cricket League, started on August 27 and is expected to end on September 11.
Rooter has partnered with Nautilus Mobile's cricket game Real Cricket for this tournament that will have 12 teams comprising game-streaming influencers and professional players from across the country competing for prize money of Rs 5 lakh.
It has also roped in popular Hindi commentator Akash Chopra to create a live match-like fan experience on the platform, including doing commentary in a few matches.
Kumar said they are clocking close to eight million aggregate views from the ongoing tournament and expect it to reach 15 million aggregate views by the end of the tournament.
Rooter plans to host similar tournaments during the upcoming cricket series such as the India-Australia T20 series and India-South Africa T20 and ODI series later this month and the ICC Men's T20 World Cup next month.
Kumar mentioned that while the esports viewership of cricket games is significantly behind battle royale games at present, it has the potential to surpass them in a year's time. The company expects these tournaments to attract 50 million aggregate views by the end of next year.
He also said these tournaments are potentially easier to monetise since cricket is already popular in the country, making it a lucrative proposition for advertisers.
Started in 2016 by Kumar and Dipesh Agarwal, Rooter started as a sports social network and pivoted to a game streaming platform in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The startup raised $25 million in its series A funding round led by Lightbox, March Gaming, and Duane Park Ventures. It claims to currently have more than 15 million monthly active users and clocked 10 million hours of live streams since the pivot.