Are We Ready for a Blockchain-based Entertainment Industry?

12th May 2019 Off By binary
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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

I. Current Problems

First of all, I have to admit that centralised platforms such as YouTube have made it much easier for anyone to start earning money with their content. However, the problem I have with this system is the unfair distribution of the compensation content creators receive. YouTube, for example, holds back 45% of the revenue they earn through displaying ads in your monetized videos.

Besides unfair distribution, a centralised platform can set the standards they benefit from, even if it is not completely according to the content producers their wishes. Of course, the content producers are the main source of income for platforms like YouTube, so their opinion is often taken into consideration. A great example is the demonetisation policy of YouTube, if they deem that your content is not appropriate for advertisements, they can demonetise it and there is little you can do about it.

The biggest problem every content producer suffers from is piracy. Content is copied without asking the permission of the content owner, and it often happens no credit is given to the author. It is a large scale problem which is hard to tackle as it so wide-spread.

In short, content producers lack control over their content:

  • Earned revenue
  • Control over who can consume
  • Less freedom and abuse through piracy

II. Blockchain-Based Entertainment — Are we Ready?

In my opinion, the market is ready for a gradual introduction to blockchain-based entertainment and content consumption. The foremost problem blockchain can assist in solving is the lack of control, which is still the major problem.

Besides control, it can assist in a more fair distribution of the revenue between the directly involved parties, eliminating platforms like YouTube but also middleman companies who profit from content producers.

Currently, a couple of interesting projects exist that are focussed on introducing various products to assist the gradual introduction into blockchain-based entertainment.

III. Entertainment Projects to Follow

BOLT Open Creative Content Network

BOLT allows users to rely on a trust-less network to administer payments, resulting in an entertainment network that sustains itself.

BOLT is an open creative content network that allows anyone to publish content and monetise it as many people have trouble doing so. BOLT’s vision is to be the largest mobile wallet in the world, powered by content. Built on Zilliqa, their mission is to democratise the chain between content producers and users.

Currently, the network is focused on becoming a blockchain-based video content platform that brings live and trendy video highlights to emerging markets which are plagued with bandwidth restrictions.

Besides bandwidth restrictions, BOLT also wants to make video content more accessible and affordable especially in markets where high commissions are charged for digital services.

The interesting thing about BOLT is that it’s able to reach high scalability, which is needed to serve millions of people of video content, via the underlying Zilliqa blockchain. Zilliqa is an interesting project as they have implemented sharding in mining to enable scaling as more miners join the network. The team was able to show that they are able to process 2,828 transactions per second using just 6 shards.

BOLT is launching an enhanced BOLT+ app, the BOLT Wallet this May, and a lineup of major global sporting events being covered by BOLT commencing from the Summer of 2019.

At the moment, BOLT focuses on Sport’s content, mostly Football and Cricket are served via high-velocity events such as the Cricket World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the African Cup of Nations in 2019 to become the world biggest wallet using a blockchain invisibility strategy to allow the masses to enjoy blockchain tech advantages and our token-reward system.

Currently, BOLT has an already large user base of over 4 million consumers via strategic partnerships all over the world.

Steemit Content Economy

Let’s take the input from Steemit user Ilyastarar to determine the most important questions to be answered about Steemit.

What is Steemit?

In short, Steemit is a blogging platform that functions like Reddit. At its most basic level, users can upvote or downvote content and start discussions on blogs. Users get rewarded in Steem for their content based on the amount of upvotes they receive. Steem uses a clever algorithm of social reputation to determine how much every upvote is worth. If you are a regular contributor that received quite some upvotes, then you are deemed to be a trustworthy contributor and your upvotes will be worth more.

This way, also users that comment on blogs can receive upvotes for their comments and earn Steem (curation rewards). It’s beneficial for both parties and it stimulates discussions on blogs.

What are the different currencies: Steem, Steem Dollar, and Steem Power? And how is Steemit able to maintain a stable economy?

Probably you will be wondering how Steemit is able to maintain a stable economy as everyone receives Steem which they are likely to sell immediately to lock in their profits. However, a more clever economy is hidden under the hood.

Steem

Steemit runs it own blockchain that issues Steem tokens. This token can be traded publicly on exchanges and is the liquid component of the asset system. Steem is the atomic unit of the Steemit economy as Steem Dollar and Steem Power derive their value from Steem tokens.

Steem Power

Steem Power is a currency which is locked up and part of your revenue is paid out in this currency. So, every user is forced to hold a certain amount of Steem Power and leave it long-term in the Steemit economy. Only after two years, your full Steem Power is converted into Steem as you can only convert 1/104th of your Steem Power into Steem weekly.

Users are incentivised to hold Steem Power as it gives them a higher “trust” in the network. This means their comments and upvotes are worth more, but also, they receive higher curation rewards when people upvote their content.

Steem Dollar

The Steem Dollar has been introduced to bring stability to the Steemit network. The Steem Dollar is always worth around $1. Whenever the price goes below $1, users can decide to destroy their Steem Dollars in favor of Steem coins to bring the price back up to $1. Whenever a content contributor receives his revenue, he receives a maximum of 50% of his revenue as Steem Dollars. There is a much larger economy behind the Steem Dollar, however, this is the most simple explanation possible.

DTube

DTube is basically a decentralised tube which uses blockchain under the hood. It looks almost like an identical clone of Youtube, you can barely see the difference. In short, this is how the platforms differ:

  • What gets uploaded to DTube stays on DTube.
  • There are no ads, however, users earn money based on the number of views their content attracts. The possibility of demonetisation is non-existent.
  • No censorship! Everyone can start earning money for their work even if you live in China or if you are younger than 18. No central authority controls DTube.

But how does DTube work under the hood? It is very unlikely full videos are stored on-chain. Yes, you are right! DTube utilizes IPFS, a protocol for storing data decentralized. The video gets stored on the IPFS network and a unique hash is generated to identify the file. This hash is stored by DTube together with the video data on their own blockchain. The hash is not only used for identifying the file, but also to make sure that the file sent to DTube is the original file (tamper-proof).

However, you might experience that some videos load very slow. This is because the IPFS protocol stores fewer “connections” to videos that are not often requested while popular content will have more connections and load faster.

In conclusion, the platform is new and a good first attempt towards a decentralised video content platform. Meanwhile, many other products have popped up like a decentralised streaming platform or decentralized Skype.

ERC-948 Subscription Services Standard

Image source: Subscription service by ConsenSys.

We have seen dozens of new Ethereum standards all intended for their own purpose. It was not unlikely somebody would come up with a standard for managing subscriptions. In short, a company develops a product and wants to allow users to pay via monthly payments. This simple subscription model can now be settled via the ERC-948 standard which takes care of monthly recurring Ethereum payments.

However, it is not as straightforward to design such blockchain based subscription standard. First of all, we want to keep the standard as lightweight as possible. Considering this, a simple “Reject-Confirm” agreement would be very successful. However, UI-wise we need to provide the user with a couple of details about the subscription he is about to confirm. We need to store data about the monthly due amount, the date on which the money is subtracted, and simply the fact they are about to agree to a recurring payment.

Besides this, more thoughts are needed about the way we want to complete the payments. The first option would be that the user has to sign the transaction himself monthly with his private key, however, this approach would undermine the idea of a monthly subscription as it is deemed to be processed automatically. The other option would be to prefill an escrow wallet with x-amount of money for the next x-months so the contract can take out the money monthly. This is a more convenient solution, however, not everyone is comfortable depositing a larger amount upfront.

More info?

Currently, this standard is being developed with active discussion ongoing. You can find more thoughts about this subscription standard posted by John Griffin (spec contributor). Also, ConsenSys wrote a thoughtful piece about problems like price volatility and the discussion to create a new contract per subscription or using a shared contract.


Are We Ready for a Blockchain-based Entertainment Industry? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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