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Amazon’s Twitch Leverages HBCUs In New Esports League

Esports is believed to be the next wave of competitive entertainment and Twitch, the video-game-streaming site, is taking notice by creating a first of its kind esports league for HBCUs. The league is meant to help close the diversity gap in the gaming industry while tapping into the global esports market revenue which is expected to reach $1.6 billion in 2023. There’s a lot of work for Twitch to do because out of the 200 universities in North America with esports teams, Morehouse College is the only HBCU on the list.

The Breakdown You Need To Know:

Twitch is partnering with Cxmmunity, a non-profit focused on increasing minority participation in esports and the gaming industry for the new HBCU esports league. CultureBanx reported that diversity issues run deep across the sector as an estimated 83% of Black teens play video games, though 68% of video game creators fall outside of this demographic, according to data from the International Game Developers Association. So tapping into the deep HBCU ecosystem to address the gaming diversity issues should prove to be very fruitful.

“As an HBCU graduate I am beyond excited to bring esports scholarships, internships, and job opportunities to students of color,” said Ryan Johnson, founder and executive director of Cxmmunity.

Gaming The Culture:

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The connection between esports and urban culture has been very prominent across the industry in several capacities. Newzoo’s 2019 Global Esports Market Report found that in 2019, there were 201.2 million “esports enthusiasts” in the audience, along with 252.6 million “occasional viewers.” These numbers are expected to grow to 347 million “occasional viewers” and 297 million “esports enthusiasts” by 2022.

Beyond HBCUs getting into the business of esports programs with Twitch, cultural trendsetters have been longtime fans. Hip hop artists have been taking part in the great investment opportunities the sector provides. Entertainers such as Drake and The Weeknd are already tapping into the cash flow of esports. Drake invested in esports company 100 Thieves in October of 2018, and in April 2019 The Weeknd invested in OverActive Media, the parent company of the Overwatch League franchise Toronto Defiant. 

Also, Sean “Diddy” Combs put several coins into high school esports initiative PlayVS in November 2018, following a $30.5 million Series B funding round. Play VS gives high school students access to competitions and scholarships, perhaps this could work well with Twitch’s new HBCU league. Hip hop in perpetuity has turned up the volume on esports growth by bringing in its loyal fan base. 

What’s Next:

Twitch, which was acquired by Amazon AMZN for $970 million in 2014 is almost coming full circle as the platform was Co-founded by Michael Seibel, who now serves as the only African-American on Reddit’s board of directors. You can check out the first lit HBCU esports league Twitch session August 2 at 3 p.m. on the Cxmmunity Twitch channel, Twitch.Tv/cxmmunityco.

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