The fintech entertainment company MovieCoin recently announced a partnership with TV-TWO, which uses blockchain technology to pay viewers to watch personalized television programming. MovieCoin will advertise films it finances on TV-TWO’s platform.

The companies are among those looking to use blockchain to change the way entertainment is financed, distributed and consumed. Two others that stand out are Reel Cash and AlphaNetworks. Though each of the four has its own characteristics, together they highlight several emerging trends.

New Financing Models

First, fresh models are emerging for financing films and other entertainment. As MovieCoin CEO Christopher Woodrow told ThirtyK in a recent interview, “The film industry is the modern Wild West when it comes to investing.” The MovieCoin platform, he says, uses blockchain and tokenization to allow a broader range of investors to participate in the financing of major motion pictures.

viewers already Provide lots of valuable data for free to Netflix. why not pay viewers to watch?

MovieCoin will sell $250 million of its Smart Fund Tokens (MSF), which will give holders stakes in a fund that invests in films and other entertainment assets. The tokens will fully finance eight to 10 widely released films each year during the life of the fund. Token purchases will be open to accredited investors” as defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In TV-TWO’s system, viewers will receive tokens for watching customized programming. For example, a film studio might pay them to watch a movie trailer. But viewers can also reward creators of content they like with tokens, thus providing direct financing.

Reel Cash, which launched the sale of REEL tokens on July 25, will provide funding for content creators in several ways. Revenue from paid subscriptions to its Reel Pass system will go toward financing new content. Additionally, Reel Cash will sell anonymized viewing data to studios, agencies and others, and half will be used to fund the creation of films and streaming series.

Data-Driven Production and Delivery

Collecting viewer data is at the core of the Reel Cash system. Founder and managing director Jeffrey Carr tells ThirtyK that streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon’s Prime Video have an enormous advantage when they produce original content: data providing valuable insights into viewer preferences and behaviors. Reel Cash will allow other content creators to gain access to the viewer data it collects as Reel Pass users watch Netflix, YouTube Red, YouTube TV and Hulu.

Currently, Reel collects such data via the use of a Chrome browser extension. In the future, Reel says it will develop apps for other devices, including smart televisions, collecting data from users who prefer to watch content outside their web browsers.

Similarly, AlphaNetworks recently announced development of a platform powered by a combination of blockchain and artificial intelligence provided by IBM’s Watson. In this system, viewers purchase “TV Tokens” to access content uploaded to the platform by content creators. As users interact with content, detailed viewer engagement data is stored on the blockchain. A recommendation algorithm uses this data to provide content recommendations to users, as well as allowing content creators and advertisers to better find their target audiences. Finally, content creators will be paid based on viewer engagement with their content.

New Consumption Models

Why would users provide such valuable data for free? Reel Cash’s Carr points out they’re already giving that data to services such as Netflix every day. But in the Reel and AlphaNetworks systems, viewers have the chance to be compensated for their data and for their engagement with content. AlphaNetworks website says, “Customers are paid, in specific cases, for viewing content.” The Reel Cash white paper says 28% of revenue from the sale of viewer data will be retained to reward viewers in the form of REEL tokens or fiat currency.

While being paid to watch movies or television might sound too good to be true, some in the media are exploring such models. As ThirtyK reported in June, Playboy is rolling out a similar system in which user engagement with content on the website will be rewarded with tokens that can then be redeemed for premium or exclusive content.

Is the entertainment industry ripe for disruption by blockchain and digital currencies? MovieCoin, Reel Cash, TV-TWO and AlphaNetworks provide a glimpse of how that process will unfold.

Sean Lawson
Sean Lawson is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Utah where he researches emerging communication technologies. He is the author of Nonlinear Science and Warfare: Chaos, Complexity, and the U.S. Military in the Information Age.