Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Now is the moment to hop aboard the NFT express

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast April 28, 2022

With the market currently standing at £14bn, NFTs offer a direct link to fans and fresh monetisation opportunities

Kate Bulkley

As some of the biggest players in music, gaming, advertising, fashion and art lead the move into non-fungible tokens (NFTs), media companies are starting to investigate how NFTs can create direct relationships with fans. However, exactly what the business model looks like, and how profitable they will be for the foreseeable future, remains somewhat sketchy.

A Mip TV keynote this month featured Fox Corp’s moves into NFTs and the metaverse, with Scott Greenberg as head of a new $100m (£76m)-backed Fox Entertainment division called Blockchain Creative Labs (BCL).

NFTs represent digital assets or rights that sit on decentralised digital platforms based on blockchain tech. An NFT can be a downloadable item in a video game, a purchasable song or video clip, through to membership of a digital fan community.

They can allow creators and fans to have a direct relationship – cutting out third-parties who would otherwise control intellectual property and financing. This all sounds very interesting unless you happen to be one of the many third parties – think distributors, licensing agents, broadcasters – that make their money from being, well, the middle man.

Fox’s BCL is forging ahead, having set up ‘Maskverse’, which allows viewers to buy and sell digital assets using NFTs from The Masked Singer and animated comedy Krapopolis. Just last month, BCL partnered with Dolly Parton to launch Dollyverse, a Web 3.0 experience offering limited-edition NFTs of her Run, Rose, Run album, as well as Dolly-inspired artwork, all launched in front of a live audience as part of the SXSW festival in Texas.

Late last year, Warner Music Group partnered with avatar technology company Genies to develop avatars and digital wearables for its WMG artists. A +E Networks has filed trademarks for A&E and History channel logos to be used for NFTs in the metaverse.

AMC Networks released The Walking Dead NFTs in February to coincide with the midseason premiere. Disney released its Mickey and Friends NFT collection in January and Marvel has NFTs based on Spiderman and Captain America.

Closer to home, ITV Studios has taken its first steps into the metaverse, partnering with Avakin Life and TikTok late last year on a virtual version of The Voice, on which the performances of 852,000 participants attracted 70 million TikTok views.

A bespoke I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! project launched at the end of 2021 in the multiplayer game Fortnite, which included a product placement tie-in with advertiser John Lewis and a real-life experience on an ultra-HD screen in London’s West End.

A spokesman says ITV is “continuing to explore opportunities for further activations within the metaverse across all ITV properties, including I’m A Celebrity 2022”, and is “exploring the space in some depth and considering licensing opportunities”.

“Like most things in media, owning the content is key. Formats, talent, music – any IP has the potential to be turned into NFTs”

Greenberg believes NFTs won’t “blow up” the old TV models but will open up new monetisation opportunities, including the tantalising prospect of independent studios producing directly for fans. Like most things in media, owning the content is key. Programme formats, talent, music, characters – any IP has potential to be turned into NFTs.

So the answer to the question “should I be developing an NFT strategy?” is probably ‘yes’ – but how fast, and with which partners, are the other crucial questions.

I think NFTs will scale faster and become mass market quicker than some think because the payment system for them doesn’t have to be in crypto currency. You can buy and sell NFTs using ApplePay, for example.

According to CryptoSlam.io, the NFT market was worth $32m (£25m) in 2020 and $18.5bn (£14bn) in 2021. It’s time to jump on the NFT train.

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