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As the digital realm and technology advances, new investment arenas and spaces open up. One of these spaces currently growing is eSports — essentially, video game competitions and tournaments. eSports have been around since the advent of online multiplayer gaming. However, it's only in recent years that the community has inched closer and closer to mainstream. It's still has a pretty niche audience, but it's growing. About 22 percent of male millennials watch eSports. This category even prefers to watch gaming tournaments over traditional sports. It's estimated that by 2020, 500 million people will be watching eSports tournaments. So how can investors cash in?

One example of an investment is the University of California, Irvine's eSports scholarship program. Just like traditional sports teams, the University is offering scholarships to students who will play on an eSports team representing the school. The school has also opened the first ever public college eSports arena.

However, the main avenues for investment will be outside of higher education. Currently, the main avenues for investors are in streaming, teams, and game development.

YouTube, Twitch, and even ESPN are getting in on the streaming game. ESPN has an eSports hub offering the latest coverage of leagues, tournaments, and standings. The largest prize pool ever in eSports was for Dota 2 league tournament play in 2017. Prizes totaled nearly $25 million. The most popular game streaming service Twitch was bought by Amazon for nearly $1 billion and now hosts more than 100 million users. YouTube has also launched YouTube Gaming in an effort to create a one-stop shop for gaming content — supported by advertising dollars. YouTube already hosts many, many hours of gaming content, but committing further to game streams positions the platform as a direct competitor to Twitch.

However, buying stock in these companies won't necessarily reap dividends strictly from eSports. The money they are making from gaming will likely be a very small portion of revenue for their parent companies. And forget trying to start a streaming platform of your own. Competing with these giants is not a smart play.

Leagues are a possible avenue. Just like physical sports, eSports form their own leagues to create regional, national, and worldwide championships. The two biggest leagues, in terms of prize money, are Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But these are both privately held by the Valve Corporation.

But there are plenty of publicly traded companies that you can buy stock in. This includes Riot Games, a division of Tencent Holdings, the world's largest video game publisher by revenue. It also created League of Legends, which paid over $5 million in prizes for play in its 2016 World Championship. (This is also the same league that UC Irvine offers scholarships for students to play in.) In 2017, Activision Blizzard launched a new league in Overwatch. Several big sports team owners as well as industry veterans had purchased the rights for its teams. A total of 14 teams were created. The teams sold for $20 million each. Revenue streams from eSports leagues are similar to traditional sports: advertising, media rights, ticket sales, and sponsorships.

Finally, there's game development and publishers. You can't have an eSports league without a game. As such, publishers and developers have the most to gain from this new arena. Publishers make money off of individual game sales as well as micro-transactions and extra downloadable content. Revenues will likely increase along with the increased interest in eSports. And as owners of the games and intellectual property they represent, publishers can generate revenue from their own eSports leagues.

According to a report from Juniper Research, revenue from eSports in 2017 was expected to total $1.8 billion. By 2021, that number is expected to reach $3.5 billion. With this looming opportunity, investors would be smart to get involved in some way, shape, or form.

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The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

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