CES Panel: Opportunity Abounds With Entertainment-Related NFTs

Some of the hot terms at CES 2022 are crypto, blockchain and NFTs (non-fungible tokens or one-of-a-kind digital assets).

In the entertainment space, NFTs are digital collectibles stored on a blockchain that can be everything from artwork to GIFs to social experiences to video content such as movies.

Speakers Jan. 5 on the “Creator Economy in the Context of Crypto” panel at CES discussed the opportunities in the space.

“From a Fox perspective, we see this as the future of media, a future form of content distribution,” said Scott Greenberg, CEO of Blockchain Creative Labs. The business and creative unit was launched last year by Fox Entertainment and its animation arm Bento Box Entertainment (“Bob’s Burgers,” “The Great North”) to provide content creators, IP owners and advertising partners end-to-end blockchain computer ecosystem solutions to build, launch, manage and sell NFT content and experiences, and fungible tokens, as well as digital goods and assets. Blockchain Creative Labs launched NFTs with Fox’s popular show “The Masked Singer.”

Scott Greenberg

“We’re also looking at launching TV shows this way,” he said, noting the upcoming launch of “Krapopolis,” created by Dan Harmon (“Rick and Morty”), will be the first ever animated series curated entirely on the blockchain. The series will have a dedicated marketplace that will curate and sell digital goods, ranging from NFTs of one-of-a-kind character and background art and GIFs to tokens that provide exclusive social experiences to engage and reward superfans.

Scott Zanghellini

Also on the panel was Scott Zanghellini, head of new revenue at WWE, which has partnered with Blockchain Creative Labs. Last April, WWE launched its first NFT with drops (releases of unique digital products) around its star The Undertaker. WWE followed up this summer with a drop for star John Cena. He noted that the WWE knows what its fans like via engagement at events, on social media, on YouTube and at other contact points.

“In terms of … putting out NFTs, we also know what the fan wants,” he said.

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Zanghellini said the WWE is looking to use its talent, its “super sauce,” to educate consumers who may not be as sophisticated or familiar with NFTs as early adopters.

“We can have the superstars of WWE explain to their fans, the way John Madden explained football … how to buy an NFT, how to engage, why it’s a value,” Greenberg added.

Blockchain Creative Labs is looking at a wide range of distribution models.

“We think there’s a huge opportunity for television shows and movies to be financed and distributed using Web 3 and the blockchain,” he said.

Former Fox Exec Hanno Basse Joins Live Planet

Live Planet, creator of systems for virtual reality and blockchain tracking of entertainment content, has appointed Hanno Basse, former chief technology officer at 20th Century Fox Film Corp., president of its Decentralized Media Solutions division.

“Basse brings Live Planet his extensive expertise in driving the adoption of emerging technologies to catalyze new media experiences and services, expanding the company’s innovations in immersive and linear video production, distribution and monetization,” according to a Live Planet press release.

Basse will expand the company’s global footprint, building on its end-to-end virtual reality video streaming and publishing solution and its blockchain-based video infrastructure platform, the VideoCoin Network.

He will be based in Los Angeles, reporting to Live Planet founder and CEO Halsey Minor.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to mark the next stage of growth for Live Planet with the addition of Hanno to our world-class team of media and technology experts. Hanno brings a truly unique level of senior experience to Live Planet that will be extremely valuable to us as we help our customers meet the increasing demands of streaming video and next-generation on-demand services,” said Minor in a statement. “The addition of a technology pioneer of Hanno’s caliber is emblematic of Live Planet’s strategic direction and I look forward to an incredibly exciting journey ahead.”

“The media processing and distribution technologies Halsey and his team have built are among the most groundbreaking I’ve seen. They provide the basis for a new generation of solutions that media, telco and corporations will eagerly embrace as our world moves toward increased decentralization, higher-speed communication and edge-based compute,” said Basse in a statement. “I cannot wait to show the world what we will deliver next.”

Basse was appointed chief technology officer at 20th Century Fox Film Corp. in 2012, At Fox, Basse was responsible for technology strategy for the film studio, covering production/post-production, theatrical distribution and home entertainment. He created partnerships with Samsung, Ericsson and Barco, among others, which led to the founding of the Fox Innovation Lab. While at Fox, he also served as the first chairman of the UHD Alliance where he helped launch the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc format and, in partnership with Samsung, established High Dynamic Range technology as a consumer product. He also served as the Fox board member of Movielabs.

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Prior to joining 20th Century Fox, Basse was with DirecTV, where he served as SVP of broadcast systems engineering. In that role, he was responsible for the design and implementation of DirecTV’s broadcast infrastructure and served as the technical lead for the introduction of many technologies to DirecTV’s platform, including HD, 3D and on-demand services.

Basse studied radio communications technology at the Engineering College of the Soviet Air Defense Forces in Kiev, Ukraine, and received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Officer’s College of the Air Force in Kamenz, Germany.

The Live Planet VR System is an end-to-end solution for easily creating and delivering live and recorded picture-perfect stereoscopic VR video programming and applications, according to the company.

The VideoCoin Network provides video infrastructure for the blockchain-enabled internet, delivering decentralized video encoding, storage and content distribution.

Blockchain Company Launches System to Finance, Track Entertainment Content

MovieCoin has launched an entertainment industry financing fund that will offer qualified investors an opportunity to invest in Hollywood films, television programs and other strategic assets using a blockchain-based financing platform and cryptographic tokens.

The company announced the system will dramatically increase stakeholder transparency and significantly improve industry accounting and payment practices.

The company is issuing a token (the Fund token) to raise capital that will be invested in movies, television programs and other entertainment industry assets. Each Fund token will represent an ownership interest in the projects financed by the Fund. These tokens will afford investors infinite divisibility and enhanced liquidity when compared to existing industry investment vehicles, according to MovieCoin. Fund tokens will only be sold to accredited investors under Regulation D and to non-U.S. persons under Regulation S of the United States Securities Exchange Act.

The MovieCoin financing platform will tokenize the films and television programs the company plans to finance using BANKEX’s Proof-of-Asset Protocol, smart contracts and smart asset assembly. The platform will provide financiers and other institutions with an immutable, transparent ledger of all of the expenditures, receipts, entitlements and ownership of each project the company finances.

In addition to the Fund token, the company is also issuing a token called Moviecoin that will enable consumers to purchase movie tickets, buy or rent films or television programs on DVD and Blu-ray or through transactional video on demand (VOD) services and subscribe to programming offered by other VOD and pay television providers. Payments made in Moviecoin will be recorded on the blockchain and promptly distributed to each project’s lenders, investors, distributors, guilds and profit participants, “bypassing the bottlenecks and middlemen that currently encumber Hollywood accounting systems,” according to MovieCoin. The MovieCoin platform and Moviecoin token will provide all of a project’s financial participants with an end-to-end view of the financing, distribution and exploitation of that project, from acquisition through every window in which consumers buy, rent or subscribe to view content.

“The ability to invest in the $2 trillion-a-year global entertainment industry has traditionally been off-limits to all but a handful of banks and privileged insiders,” said Christopher Woodrow, chairman and CEO at MovieCoin, in a statement. “Our platform and token are game changers in that they will radically transform the ways in which motion pictures, television programs and other media projects are funded.”

“The increase in transparency introduced by the platform makes the tokenized asset clear and understandable to institutional investors and the professional finance community,” said Igor Khmel, founder and CEO at BANKEX, in a statement. “It represents the first commercial case of real asset tokenization, globally and in the U.S., and is one of the clearest examples of how best-in-class technology and innovative thinking is being combined to completely reshape a hardened industry sector like film production with the help of blockchain technology and the digital asset economy.”

Is Content King — or Is Data?

You may think Netflix’s business is offering subscription video streaming of increasingly original content and MoviePass’ offering subscription access to theatrical content, but there’s a hidden asset that buttresses both — consumer data.

Speakers at the February Digital Entertainment World conference in Marina Del Rey, Calif., pointed out the importance of data in entertainment disruption.

“MoviePass is a new type of business model,” said John Penney, EVP of consumer business development and strategic partnerships at 20th Century Fox. “Data is really the core of the business.”

Another Fox exec at the same event, on the panel “Does Hollywood Need a Blockchain?,” noted the importance of data in the entertainment industry. With their exclusive data, digital retailers have become “gatekeepers of what consumers are interested in,” said Ron Wheeler, SVP of content protection and technology strategy, adding a “potential effect of blockchain is the decentralization of access to data.”

You may think blockchain is only about cryptocurrency, but it’s also about precise data tracking, just the kind of thing digital companies such as MoviePass and Netflix are now keeping to themselves.

Data on consumer preferences can affect marketing spend — and the very content that gets produced. Currently, studios must depend on tracking from retailers, theater chains and other outside sources. Meanwhile, Netflix and MoviePass have data that tells them exactly what entertainment viewers are consuming. In the case of MoviePass, that data tracking could extend to where they ate dinner before the movie and whether they used Uber to get there.

It may be time for Hollywood to pay as much attention to data as it does to development.

Panel: Blockchain Technology Could Be Revolutionary for Hollywood, Content Creators

A technology more frequently associated with cryptocurrency could offer exciting new opportunities for Hollywood and content creators, according to panelists speaking Feb. 6 at Digital Entertainment World in Marina Del Rey.

“There’s no doubt that blockchain is a major technology innovation on a historic scale,” said Jim Helman, CTO of studio-backed MovieLabs, on the panel “Does Hollywood Need a Blockchain?”

The technology, which offers precise, chronological data tracking, could potentially be useful to studios in combatting piracy and getting access to consumer data that currently only gatekeepers (i.e. Netflix, Amazon) can access — and that they don’t share.

“One of the potential uses of blockchain is to lower barriers of entry to other players [than these gatekeepers],” said panelist Ron Wheeler, SVP content protection and technology strategy, Twentieth Century Fox.

Digital retailers have become “gatekeepers of what consumers are interested in,” he said, adding a “potential effect of blockchain is the decentralization of access to data.”

It also could be an application for Movies Anywhere, the cloud-based digital locker service launched in October and backed by five of the six major studios.

“It’s a good potential use case [for Movies Anywhere],” Wheeler said. “Movies Anywhere was designed precisely to diminish the role of gatekeepers.”

Panelist Amorette Jones, CEO of Pivotal Entertainment, said Pivotal is set up to help the entertainment industry. She called it “the first blockchain created specifically for the needs of entertainment.”

“We’re very pro studio,” she said. “My background is studio. I understand the issues that studios have.”

She noted that blockchain can change the way data is managed and controlled.

“We’re of the opinion that consumers own their data,” she said. “The age of farming their data is over.”

When gatekeepers, who control and mine consumer data, are cut out of the process, it will benefit both content creators and consumers, panelists said.

“We created [Pivotal] to change the way that content is not only distributed on the Internet but the way the content creators and consumers can relate to one another on the Internet,” Jones said.

Through blockchain, content owners can potentially pay consumers for data and save money through more targeted marketing, she said, noting that the average marketing campaign for a film is around $50 million, mostly spent on TV advertising. If studios don’t have to spend that much, they can put more money into the product.

“What a studio can do is place bets on other movies,” she said. “They don’t have to make Marvel Man 72. It’s good for studios. It’s good for consumers.”

In the music business, Vezt is attempting to use blockchain to give musicians more control over their creations. The plan is to allow creators to benefit from their work, said Steve Stewart, CEO and co-founder of Vezt.

“I think if content is king, data is the key to the kingdom,” he said. “Artists are generally kept in the dark.”

Citing Spotify, iTunes and YouTube, he noted, “None of them share the consumer data with the creator.

“We think the creator should be in touch with the consumer. When you keep those two apart you are doing something unnatural.”

Stewart said Vezt hopes to allow creators to sell their own work, sell subsequent work and sell tickets through that connection to the fans by knowing them better. Right now, he noted, a retailer such as Best Buy, knows more about a consumer who buys an album, via credit card and other data, than the creator of that album.

“Our hope is that we can connect the consumer to the creator,” Stewart said.

While the prospect of blockchain technology may be exciting, it’s not all smooth sailing, noted Helman.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities, but there are also some challenges in adapting the technology to a particular supply chain need,” he cautioned.