Fox Corp. owns the only one of the four major broadcast networks in the United States that isn’t affiliated with a significant direct-to-consumer subscription streaming play. In addition, the company is the only one among its peers to have established a separate Web3 and NFT division.
According to Charlie Collier, CEO of Fox Entertainment, the two are related.
“We have a competitive advantage in building a blockchain-based business,” he says. “Instead of having a vertically integrated SVOD [subscription video-on-demand] service, we’re able to invest in that because we’re not spending billions of dollars on content and focusing on churn.”
This is not the first time of FOX corp. in Web3
Last year, Fox established Blockchain Creative Labs, a venture housed within its Bento Box Entertainment animation division. The mission of BCL is to develop, launch, manage, and sell non-fungible token content and experiences, as well as other digital goods.
According to Collier, the strategy is not to cash in on the craze for NFTs as speculative digital collectibles. Instead, BCL’s long-term goal is to enable new business models for content distribution and consumer engagement, eliminating the mediators of streaming platforms and, eventually, allowing fans to own a piece of their favorite TV shows literally.
“This will pay dividends for a long time,” Collier says of Fox Corp.’s blockchain investments.
Collier applauds Fox Corporation’s leadership, Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch, for cultivating an entrepreneurial business culture that encourages big bets. He says they’re all in on blockchain. “The Murdochs have always been known for looking around corners and investing in what turn out to be successful ventures.”
Fox says it is willing to invest up to $100 million in NFT and blockchain initiatives to demonstrate its commitment to the sector. (Collier refuses to say how much money the company has spent so far.) Fox Corp. paid an undisclosed sum in August 2021 to acquire a minority stake in Eluvio, a startup whose platform is designed to distribute and monetize premium content by utilizing blockchain to verify ownership and provide access control.
Scott Greenberg, co-founder and CEO of Bento Box, the studio behind “Bob’s Burgers,” leads BCL.
Greenberg believes that the business potential for Web3 far exceeds that of today’s digital-collectibles marketplaces. The blockchain is the first time real digital property rights can be granted. Greenberg proposes the following thought experiment:
“Consider a situation similar to that of Napster, the infamous peer-to-peer file-sharing service that was sued out of existence two decades ago for facilitating rampant piracy. Instead of a value-destroying free-for-all, the Web3 version would allow content owners to monetize every transaction.”
“We’re reinventing home video.”
The first batch of “Krap Chickens” went on sale on August 11, with prices ranging from $184 to $330 in Ethereum cryptocurrency at the time of writing. NFT buyers receive exclusive access to a variety of perks, such as token-gated access to content and private screening rooms, invitations to online meet-and-greets with cast and producers, first-look access to upcoming NFT drops, and the ability to vote on elements that will be included in the show (for example, an episode’s end-credits song). NFT holders who accumulate enough credits may be able to secure a spot as an “extra” in the series, with their likeness appearing on a background character in “Krapopolis,” according to Greenberg.
Will these business models, however, take root and become the dominant mechanism for content distribution? Greenberg believes that the Web3 audience of the future is a generation that is familiar with the metaverses of Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft, as well as the concepts of ownership in a virtual world.
Greenberg uses a baseball metaphor to say that Web3 and NFTs are not even in the first inning. “We’re doing batting practice,” he explains. “The game has not yet begun.” “This is like the AOL and CompuServe of what’s coming,” he says of the current state of the blockchain revolution.