Blockchain is making inroads in the Media sector. Soon blockchain-enabled movies and media content platforms will become as normal as movie streaming services, which at a time was thought infeasible.
Blockchain is here already
Hollywood is set to take the lead in adopting blockchain in Media and entertainment sector. Come June, “No Postage Necessary” an indie romcom will be released but unlike releases in theaters or regular video services, the movie will be accessed through a blockchain-powered app. Vevue is a blockchain-based video application which allows users to buy movies using a cryptocurrency token. “They need to just pay a token rather than dollars,” he said describing how viewers can watch the movie, which will be the first launched using blockchain tech, movie director Jeremy Culver said describing the process.
Culver is excited about the changes blockchain technology brings to his latest project. He believes that blockchain will play a revolutionary role in his industry. “[Revolution is] a pretty strong word, but it’s happening,” he said noting that the world is constantly changing. But Jeremy is not alone in his lofty valuation of blockchain; in fact, it is impossible to get involved with the technology and not be awed by possibilities it holds.
Blockchain applied to social media, content distribution and ecommerce
One of such innovators is Comcast. The Venture capital subsidiary of the Media Company currently bets on blockchain businesses including a 3.3 million investment with Blockdaemon. Comcast Venture’s managing director Gil Beyda is a firm blockchain believer in the potentials of blockchain and cryptocurrency. In an interview with CNBC, He explained that the three principles of blockchain around identity, immutable ledger, and decentralized control can disrupt industry player in social media, content distribution, and e-commerce.
Gil Beyda’s interview with CNBC
Blockchain is helping Content Distribution, Virtual Reality, and Web Publishing
Littlstar is another company that is big on blockchain. The company which distributes VR and AR for content is exploring blockchain as a better and cost-effective alternative to its centralized platform. Co-founder and CEO, Tony Mugavero noted that moving VR content around is super expensive at scale; “We had to find a way of taking distribution costs out of our equation.” He said. And blockchain checked the boxes.
Later this year the company will launch Ara, a new decentralized distribution platform that uses blockchain to manage content rights and reward structure. Basically, users earn tokens for redistributing content which can be used to purchase other content on the platform.
Several other startups and established firms are bringing blockchain into the distribution of Media content. Startups like Otoy, SingularDTV, and Po.et are bringing blockchain to visual effects distribution, funding and web publishing respectively.
ICO – A new way of Funding Media projects
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which became very popular in 2017 is a new funding option for blockchain startups in Media as it is in other spheres. In many cases, this crowdfunding method has replaced the traditional VC funds but not without its own downsides. The funding method is facing heavy scrutiny from regulatory bodies including the US SEC following a lot of ICO scams. The investments just like cryptocurrency tokens are highly speculative.
Beyda weighed in on the matter of ICOs; he said: “We’re seeing companies getting funded with hundreds of millions of dollars where essentially you have a couple of interesting co-founders and a white paper,” while warning that most blockchain projects have to start from ground zero, a difficult position to be. “It’s essentially like you’re starting a new country […] this is a new business model that we’re having to figure out.”
Media Giants are also interested in Blockchain innovation
Big Media and entertainment companies aren’t leaving the blockchain craze to new startups alone. Household names like Comcast and Warner brothers are making efforts to adopt blockchain directly into the existing models or as spinoffs from their businesses.
Comcast, as we mentioned earlier, is investing in blockchain startups through its VC arm. Beyond that, the company, which is one of the biggest in the United States, is developing a platform for data exchange across media companies and plans to launch a blockchain spinoff, Blockgraph. Warner Music, on the other hand, is trying to manage its assets using a blockchain system. With its acquisition of blockchain-based music rights management platform Mediachain, Spotify signaled its interest in blockchain application in the industry.
Blockchain wouldn’t fix all Media’s problems
While blockchain interventions may be very exciting to explore, blockchain would not solve all the problems faced by the Media and Entertainment sector—and it shouldn’t. Culver, who directed the movie “No Postage Necessary,” and co-produced it alongside Charleene Closshey, cautions that blockchain does not take the hard work away. According to him, “you still need great PR and marketing,” and “you still need theatrical bookers.”
According to Simon Morris an executive at BitTorent, sheer excitement or resources shouldn’t dictate a company’s approach to blockchain. He said, “The world of the decentralized internet is enormously exciting right now […] But there are also many projects trying to do things in a decentralized way because they can, rather than because they should.”
Morris would know a thing about blockchain networks; he develops strategies for his company which deals with peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols and software for content. He gives an insight into the reality of running a decentralized service. He says:
“Building the service and making it work effectively is just the tip of the iceberg […] Don’t just build it because you can. Build it because you’re sure someone actually wants and needs it,”
Sources: Variety, CNBC, BitTorrent, Littlstar, Vevue