NFT in the media: a technology on the trajectory “from the experimental to the mainstream” | Industry trends

With any significant technological change, there will always be at least a few “bumps in the road” in terms of public perception. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are no exception, and in recent months there has been a flurry of articles questioning the long-term viability of this market—not least in the pages of the Wall Street Journal (“NFT Sales Decline,” May 2022)

However, look beyond the undoubted current volatility of the crypto market and to the use of NFTs and blockchain in broadcasting and media, and a much more positive narrative emerges. The 2021-2022 period saw a wave of innovative media NFT projects – not least from sports federations and leagues such as the NBA and WWE.

Indeed, the extent to which sports are driving NFT growth was recently highlighted by a Deloitte forecast that sports media NFTs will generate over US$2 billion in transactions in 2022.

But with recent months bringing big NFT-related announcements from film/TV and music companies and individual artists, it is quickly becoming a phenomenon that affects all areas of the creative industries. Michelle Munson, co-founder and CEO of content blockchain innovator Eluvio, has no doubt that the past 12 months have marked the next phase of NFT maturity, not least as a key component of “the next 20-year inflection point of the Internet . “

Eluvio Michelle Munson

“Over the past year, we’ve seen NFTs transform from something experimental to mainstream,” says Munson. “Across the industry, you’re seeing more and more organizations looking to create native Web 3.0 experiences, typically involving tokens—mostly non-fungible, but some also fungible. And from our point of view, [the focus is on] pushing the envelope in terms of direct grassroots engagement’ – thereby broadening NFT’s reach beyond its initial focus on collectibles.

NFT innovation in the sports market

Yet while the past year has seen a flurry of activity in many areas of media, there’s no doubt that sports has been the most enthusiastic recipient yet. The US, in particular, has seen a number of innovative schemes from the likes of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), whose Top Shot marketplace allows users to buy, sell and collect NBA NFTs that highlight significant ‘moments’ , mined on the FLOW blockchain.

Eluvio The MaskVerse

Talk to media service providers and companies that are actively involved in or exploring the potential of NFT-related projects, and it’s clear that most anticipate the continued development of NFTs for sports media, which assemble pieces of audio and video material around upcoming memorable events. moments’ in separate events. To that end, a significant shift in manufacturing workflows is likely on the horizon.

Debra Slater, director of Three Media Associates, observes the current momentum behind “looking at what value can be added through some form of blockchain to the production side so that you can capture everything related to [specific moment]. From our perspective, we want to see what can be done along the supply chain when it comes to adding value, which can be in terms of data quality and availability as a key consideration rather than pure efficiency.”

Three Media’s CTO, Craig Bury, points out that NFTs with “smart contract overlays” that set out the specific rights of owners will help the technology grow in sports and beyond.

“If you need to validate the provenance of a material, NFT is a pretty good way to do it because of the immutable characteristics of the blockchain and its associated ledger,” says Bury. Although he points out that the market is still in a very formative stage, he is encouraged by the “huge amount of experimentation” taking place and says that “we can be pretty sure that more uses and applications will inevitably come down the the pipe’.


Vislink is one company that has certainly moved beyond experimentation by showcasing its new NFT innovation at the 2022 NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) convention in Las Vegas last month. Designed for use by a wide range of organizations, the NFT-Ready Video Clipping Tool will allow users to capture, package and convert videos into NFTs that organizations can “use as a source of revenue while increasing engagement with their fans.”

Mickey Miller, CEO of Vislink, notes that the NFT trend resonates with “people who seem to value ownership of things that are recognized by other people. My personal opinion is that NFTs should have utility [in the long-term]. But I think we’re seeing that now in some of the projects that are emerging.

NFTs can create something beyond sentiment

As it turns out, NFT’s potential to foster deeper relationships with audiences has also been on the mind of global media technology solutions provider MediaKind.

Chris Wilson MediaKind

Chris Wilson is the company’s director of market development, sports, and comments: “Whatever piece of video it is, it can have a mood associated with it – like audience reaction or social media. But there is also an opportunity to create something beyond sentiment; you can do all kinds of cool stuff like [connecting NFTs] to souvenirs or exclusive access to events.

“So I think you’re going to see a lot of activity now around using NFTs and other digital collectibles as a means of engaging audiences and building fan communities that go beyond live streaming.”

Recent developments suggest this could be a future focus for MediaKind, which last year unveiled a new end-to-end direct-to-consumer solution, MediaKind Engage, for video contribution, production, streaming and audience engagement.

“Companies need to think about how they can really use [blockchain and NFT] technologies to deepen customer engagement and increase revenue.”

Wilson is clear that the value is most evident in “the pairing of smart contracts and digital tokens,” but points out that it will be some time before the industry settles on some preferred approaches: “I don’t think anyone has any set ideas for all that, but I’m sure it will happen. Also, as with any significant new area of ​​technology, people need to gain “knowledge, understanding and trust, and that comes with time.”

Meredith Walcott is Director of Sales at The Switch, the company behind a global transmission network that connects more than 800 of the world’s largest content producers, distributors and sports and events venues. Like Wilson, she points out that the potential use cases for NFTs will only continue to grow.

Meredith - The Switch

“Honestly, I think the possibilities are endless,” she says. Therefore, in addition to leagues and federations exploring NFTs, there is a chance for individuals, including “American college athletes, to monetize their name, image and likeness and earn revenue from it. A few years ago they had to go pro to make some money, so on their own [represents a big change].”

Historically, sports broadcasting rights have been the subject of complex agreements driven by the relationship between the sports organization – be it a club or federation – and the broadcaster. But that dynamic is changing, not least because the advent of streaming and more affordable production technology makes it easier for a sports organization to reach viewers directly—if not for the main event, then for an ever-growing array of ancillary content.

With NFTs being included in future deals, it’s not hard to see how individual athletes could also use specific content to help build their brands.

Switch is working with “rights holders, leagues and teams to see how they can host content [into these new forms]and have the tools to extend and improve various workflows.” But while the tools are increasingly available for NFT use, a long-term view is essential.

“I think in five years it will be more mainstream,” Walcott says. “But [it does take time] to educate the public and make people see the value of it. Companies also need to think about how they can really use technology to deepen customer engagement and drive revenue.” Because ultimately, for the NFT customer, “it’s not going to be about showing off wealth, it’s about , which you are passionate about’.

NFT media delivering transformative value

The topic of using NFTs to explore new types of engagement – ​​covering interactivity, gamification and re-monetization of back catalog content, as well as “on-the-fly” creation of new NFTs from live events – is also picked up by Eluvio’s Michelle Munson.

One of the undoubted pioneers of media blockchain and NFT, Eluvio has revealed details of a number of ground-breaking projects over the past 18 months with organizations ranging from Fox Entertainment, MGM and Virgin Music to individual artists including Dolly Parton. The ability of the Eluvio Content Fabric technology to undertake all the processes of distribution and sale of content on the blockchain endears it to a wide range of customers.

Eluvio BCL - Dollyverse

Munson expects the pace at which NFTs are maturing now will be reflected at IBC 2022 and beyond. “I think you’re definitely going to see more and more media being created for this type of distribution,” she says.

Highlighting the abundance of creators and companies looking to these technologies to “provide transformative value,” Munson expects the next big step for the industry to be “really releasing episodic video and film content, as well as music, directly in the chain.” And while some early blockchain-based projects may have had a more niche appeal, now “there’s going to be more mainstream targeting.”

Interestingly, Munson suggests that fluctuations in the crypto world could actually benefit the outlook for NFTs in the media. “One good thing about the cryptocurrency downturn is that interest in pushing the boundaries of technology to create new forms of entertainment, like Web 3.0 experiences, has really picked up,” she says.

Eluvio NFT_WWE_HIAC_CASEHell in a Cell by Eluvio

In particular, it’s clear that she believes that NFTs and blockchain herald a chance for the historic imbalance between musicians and music companies—a problem that has arguably worsened dramatically in the current streaming era—to finally be addressed. With Web 2.0 streaming, “so much value has gone to the platforms as opposed to the endpoints—i.e. the creators and the audience. This is the opportunity to really change that.” Increasingly, “people are realizing that Web 3.0 is here to stay and that it will provide experiences that can take media in a new way. One result of this will be the next wave [of projects] will be driven by the media experience in the chain with collectibles as a complement.”

So overall, it’s still early days, but the excitement around the creative and commercial possibilities is palpable. A final word to Chris Wilson: “We’re at the start of a very long journey and it’s going to be absolutely fascinating to see how it unfolds.”

For more information on how NFTs are being used by media companies and what the future may hold, read our review of blockchain in broadcast

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