Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea, three of the largest telecom companies in India, continue to have ambitions to enter the growing gaming and esports market, which is anticipated to experience rapid development and investment due to higher speeds and reduced latency with the arrival of 5G services in India soon. Games will be a key component of all three telcos’ future business strategies, they claimed, as they appear to be the primary driver of Average Earnings Per Share User (ARPU) by attracting more subscribers and boosting user stickiness. Esports is a subset of internet gaming, which refers to competitive multiplayer video games performed in front of audiences, usually by professionals.
According to a report released in November 2021 by Boston Consulting Group and Sequoia India, the Indian online gaming market, which includes e-sports, would grow to $5 billion in 2025 from $1.8 billion today. In India, the number of 5G smartphones installed has already surpassed 50 million.
The market leader in telecom, Jio, unveiled its JioGamesWatch platform a week after the conclusion of the 5G auctions, enabling live streaming and creator-viewer interaction across various Jio devices. The telecom giant spent the most money during the 5G sale, paying Rs 88,078 crore to purchase the 24.74GHz airwaves.
According to the CEO of Airtel Digital Adarsh Nair, gamers represent an important segment of Airtel’s client base. Gamers, he continued, have higher bandwidth and lower latency connectivity needs, making this a crucial market for the company’s broadband and future 5G businesses. He told ET, “Similar to Wynk Music and Xstream Video, we will soon launch an Airtel gaming app to cater to the needs of gamers. In the future, cloud gaming and related products will also be part of Airtel’s gaming initiative.”
Airtel placed second in the auctions, paying Rs 43,084 crore for 19.867 GHz of spectrum. Airtel would consider joint ventures with e-sports organizations. Vodafone Idea is also pursuing a similar course of action. For the rights to use the 6.228 GHz spectrum, Vodafone Idea paid Rs 18,799 crore.
India’s esports scene is going through a meteoric rise. Most gamers in India play games on mobile phones which are the go-to device because of their accessibility. 5G connections will boost the overall connectivity which will take online gaming and esports to the next level.