Four giants of the entertainment world have now thrown their weights behind NFTs: FOX Entertainment, WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS and Lionsgate have all announced their own NFT ventures, with Fox (in collaboration with its animation studio, Bento Box) going as far as creating Blockchain Creative Labs (BCL) – a dedicated business unit providing blockchain solutions to launch, manage and sell NFTs. Fox and Blockchain Creative Labs will launch an NFT marketplace called “The Maskverse” where enthusiasts of the singing competition The Masked Singer, will be able to collect and trade NFT digital assets from the show.
NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are the latest blockchain phenomenon to have made waves on the internet, with attitudes towards the crypto-based tokens ranging from excitement to skepticism to derision. Unlike a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, where one bitcoin is precisely equivalent in value to any other bitcoin, NFTs are non-fungible, meaning that each token is unique and cannot be traded for another qualitatively identical token. Most NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain, which is a cryptocurrency similar to bitcoin or dogecoin, but which also supports NFTs.
Typically the acquisition of NFTs involves gaining ownership rights to a digital asset, such as an image, gif or small video clip, on the blockchain (although original media owners mostly retain rights to use and distribute the asset, but cannot sell another NFT for it). Many NFT advocates have compared acquiring tokens to the purchase of artwork or collecting rare trading cards. In October, Mike Winkelmann – who creates digital art under the pseudonym “Beeple” – sold an NFT of his work for $69 million.
Introduced by Fox, The MaskVerse will allow crypto-fans to build their own collection of limited-edition digital masks for characters across all six seasons of The Masked Singer. Players will be able to participate in a voting game to predict contestant eliminations in the TV show, giving them opportunities to buy Gold Mask packs, complete the full collection and win special prizes. Fans will create digital wallets through the Eluvio blockchain to function as a digital vault for their MaskVerse NFTs, and can purchase tokens via credit cards or cryptocurrency while still being able to transfer their NFTs to third-party wallets.
Aside from launching Blockchain Creative Labs (with a $100 million seed investment) and unveiling The MaskVerse, Fox has also demonstrated its interest in NFTs by teaming up with WWE to launch a marketplace for trading tokens based on the sports company’s catalogue of wrestling intellectual property.
The astonishing prices some NFTs have sold for seems to have attracted the attention of other entertainment mega-companies. ViacomCBS has partnered with the NFT company Recur, to develop and sell tokens based on its catalogue of films and TV shows. The companies will launch a platform in early 2022, selling digital assets from CBS, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and other channels.
ViacomCBS’s Consumer Products President Pam Kaufman said, “Voracious collectors and first-time NFT buyers alike will find unique opportunities to own a piece of their favorite franchises.”
Similarly WarnerMedia-owned CNN will rollout its own NFTs through an offering called “Vault by CNN”, and Lionsgate has signed a partnership agreement with NFT company Autograph to bring tokens to market based on major franchises such as The Hunger Games, Mad Men and John Wick.
“NFTs present a tremendous opportunity for mixed-reality world building experiences, deepening user engagement and interaction and fostering a community for our hundreds of millions of global consumers to create one-of-a-kind digital collections and Autograph is the optimal destination for this discovery,” said Jenefer Brown, Executive VP & Head of Lionsgate Global Live.