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Blizzard hits Twitch

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Social video platform Twitch and Blizzard Entertainment have announced a two-year worldwide collaboration that includes third-party live streaming rights to select Blizzard esports content, as well as special game content for Twitch Prime subscribers.

Through this collaboration, Twitch will have the third-party rights for streaming many of Blizzard’s biggest esports events through 2018. As the premier social video platform and community for gamers, fans can look forward to watching and interacting with top-tier competitive gaming content from Blizzard while benefiting from a convenient, consistent, and reliable viewing experience on Twitch. In addition, Twitch Prime gamers will rake in several stellar perks for their favorite Blizzard games.

As the first part of this landmark license deal, Blizzard is licensing third-party streaming-platform rights to Twitch for a range of Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Overwatch esports content. The deal, which reflects Blizzard and Twitch’s long-term investment and ongoing commitment to their passionate communities, supports the world-class competitive ecosystem across all of Blizzard’s esports properties. This includes the following programs and comprises more than 20 major individual events:

  • Heroes of the Storm Global Championship (HGC)
  • StarCraft II World Championship Series (WCS Circuit)
  • Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT)
  • Hearthstone Global Games (HGG)
  • World of Warcraft Arena Championship
  • Overwatch APEX League
  • Overwatch Premier Series

For the second part of the collaboration, Twitch Prime members in over 200 countries and territories will get special in-game loot and deals for Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm. Starting on June 20 and running through August 10, current and new Twitch Prime members will receive a Golden Loot Box for Overwatch, containing a guaranteed legendary item for one of the game’s heroes along with three additional in-game items, such as emotes, voice lines, or character skins. Over the coming months, Twitch Prime members will receive 10 additional Overwatch loot boxes containing more in-game content. Overwatch players can learn more at https://twitch.amazon.com/overwatch. Similar promotions will begin later this year for Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone players.

“We founded Twitch as a gaming platform heavily based on our community’s reaction to games like Blizzard’s StarCraft II,” said Kevin Lin, COO, Twitch. “Since then, our large, but tight-knit community, our constantly evolving suite of interactive features, and a native emote-driven chat language celebrated by viewers enable us to support and grow Blizzard esports in a manner that best serves our collective fans. This includes providing Blizzard fans with exclusive in-game content for those who subscribe to Twitch Prime, another defining and cherished component of our brand.”

“We’ve had great experiences and a long history of working with Twitch, and we’re thrilled that this landmark agreement with them will help us bring some of the most exciting esports action in the world to Twitch fans and everyone who follows Blizzard esports,” said Frank Pearce, chief product officer and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Our esports communities are vital to us. We know there are millions of people out there who love Blizzard esports as much as we do, and we’re committed to making sure they’ll be able to cheer on their favorite players in all of their favorite Blizzard games for a long time to come.”

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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