Fox Corp. runs the only one of the four major U.S. broadcast networks that aren’t tied to a main direct subscription streaming play. The company is also the only one of its kind to have started a separate division for blockchain, Web3, and NFT.
The CEO of Fox Entertainment, Charlie Collier, says that these two things are linked.
“Building a business on the blockchain gives us a competitive edge,” he says. “We can put money into that because we don’t have a vertically integrated SVOD service; we don’t spend billions of dollars on content and focus on churn.”
Fox set up Blockchain Creative Labs in 2017 as a part of its animation division, Bento Box Entertainment. BCL’s job is to make, launch, manage, and sell non-fungible token content, experiences, and other digital goods.
Collier says that the plan isn’t to cash in on the craze for NFTs as speculative digital collectibles. Instead, the plan is to make NFTs more useful. The long-term goal of BCL is to make it possible for new business models for content distribution and consumer engagement, cutting out the middlemen of streaming platforms and letting fans own a piece of their favorite TV shows one day.
Collier says that Fox Corp.’s investments in blockchain will pay off for a long time.
Collier says that Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan Murdoch, who run Fox Corp., have created an entrepreneurial business culture that encourages taking big risks. He says that they are all in on the blockchain. “The Murdochs have always been good at looking around corners and putting their money into businesses that turn out to be successful.”
Fox says it is willing to put up to $100 million into NFT and blockchain projects to show how serious it is about the industry. (Collier won’t say how much money the business has spent so far.) Fox Corp. paid an undisclosed amount in August 2021 to buy a minority stake in a startup called Eluvio. Eluvio is a platform for distributing and making money from premium content that uses blockchain to prove ownership and control access.
Scott Greenberg is in charge of BCL. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Bento Box, the studio that made “Bob’s Burgers” and other popular shows.
“Because we work in animation, all of our assets are already digital. He says, “Our content is built on databases.” Using NFTs and blockchain “seemed like a natural step for us to take,” as they say.
Greenberg says that the business potential of Web3 is much greater than what you see in the digital collectibles markets of today. With the blockchain, you can give real digital property rights for the first time. Here’s a thought experiment from Greenberg: Think about a situation like Napster, the infamous peer-to-peer sharing service that was shut down because it made it easy for people to steal music. But instead of a free-for-all that destroys value, the Web3 version would let content owners make money from every transaction. “We’re making home video new again,” he says.
So far, BCL has made NFT drops for Fox’s “The Masked Singer” on a site called the MaskVerse. This made more than 300,000 people make digital wallets so they could collect the NFTs. It has also made digital collectibles with WWE, whose “Friday Night SmackDown” is shown on Fox.
“Krapopolis,” a new animated comedy series is set in the mystical world of ancient Greece by Dan Harmon, co-creator of “Rick and Morty” and “Community,” will be the next big test of Fox and BCL’s blockchain plans. Before the show starts airing on Fox in 2023, BCL has made krapopolis.com.
The first set of “Krap Chickens” went on sale on August 11, priced in Ethereum cryptocurrency, which at the current exchange rate is worth between $184 and $330 each. The NFT buyers have exclusive access to a number of perks, such as token-gated content and services and private screening rooms, invitations to web meet-and-greets with cast and producers, first-look link to upcoming NFT drops, and the capability to vote on elements that will be in the show, such as the end-credits song for an episode. Greenberg says that if an NFT holder gets enough credits, they might even be able to get a part as an “extra” in the show, with their image on a background character in “Krapopolis.”
Krapopolis.com dropped 10,420 chicken NFTs, which were made and drawn by the show’s animators (get the pot joke?). Harmon’s work on this series has been unlike anything else he’s done, which doesn’t come as a surprise since he’s a bit of a free spirit.
Harmon says, “‘Krapopolis’ is different from any other series I’ve helped make.” “Building a fully realized world and a cast of crazy characters on the blockchain has never been done before, and for fans, it will come to life in a way that no other show has.”
Collier again says that the “Krapopolis” project isn’t about making more money through NFT sales. “It’s about letting fans choose something they’re passionate about,” he says. Collier says that, just like Ryan Seacrest taught Americans how to text on Fox’s “American Idol” in the early 2000s, Fox and Blockchain Creative Labs will be at the forefront of showing the value and viability of Web3 in the entertainment world.
However, will these business models stick and become the most popular way to get content to people? Greenberg thinks that the Web3 audience of the future will be a group of people who are familiar with the metaverses of games like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft and know what it means to own something in a virtual world.
Greenberg says that Web3 and NFTs are not even in the first inning, which is a baseball term. He says, “We’re in batting practice.” “The game has not yet begun.” About where the blockchain revolution is right now, he says, “This is like AOL and CompuServe of what’s to come.”