BlackRock has expanded its range of thematic products with the launch of a digital entertainment and education ETF.

The iShares Digital Entertainment and Education UCITS ETF (PLAY) is listed on the Euronext Amsterdam with a total expense ratio (TER) of 0.40%.

PLAY tracks the STOXX Global Digital and Entertainment and Education index which selects companies that generate over 50% of their revenue from 34 sectors including educational software, general gaming products and services, content platforms and electronic devices.

The index, which currently comprises of 81 stocks, is equally weighted and also applies a market capitalisation filter and ESG exclusions to the stock selection process.

Qontigo said the index was created to capture the technology-focused learning and entertainment trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evy Hambro, global head of thematic and sector investing at BlackRock, commented: “Thematic investing is being used by an increasingly diverse investor base who are seeking exposure to the secular, disruptive and long-term trends that are set to define the future of the global economy.

“This addition to our thematics range leverages the strength of our global investment platform to capture drivers of structural change and to position investors’ portfolios for long-term growth.”

Christoph Schon, senior principal, applied research at Qontigo, added recent market volatility has highlighted the benefits of thematic investing which can invest across regions and sectors.

“These strategies offer the advantage of crossing the established boundaries of conventional region-, country- or sector-based offerings,” Schon continued. “As such, they can capitalise on powerful, structural drivers that provide less cyclicality and more diversification to the usual market dynamics.”

According to a backtested analysis of the index, it has returned -35.2% year to date and -40.8% over one year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has returned -29.4% and -22.9% over the same period, respectively.

BlackRock’s thematic range of ETFs in collaboration with Qontigo now has over $8.8bn in assets under management.

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