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Blockchain Technologies for Video-Streaming Entertainment Platforms: The Future of Content Distribution

17.04.2018

Online video streaming entertainment services are becoming increasingly popular, a phenomenon that will only continue with the ongoing development of blockchain technology. Today’s online video entertainment viewing rate is at least 80% in most countries, with over 60% of users viewing content daily. It is also predicted that by 2021, online video streaming will encompass over 80% of all consumer Internet traffic.

Currently, services such as YouTube, NetFlix, and Facebook overwhelmingly dominate the global online video market. These platforms, which mostly use advertisement and subscription-based revenue models, have often been criticized for abusing users’ personal data, annoying viewers with an unending flow of ads, and for not addressing content creators’ shares of revenue. However, all of this will soon change, as blockchain technology expands beyond the financial and banking industries to online video streaming platforms, an expansion which will bring with it new customers as well as more diversity of content.

A new trend in IT, blockchain-based ICO’s for online video services are currently attracting millions of dollars. Expert Coin reviews several online video streaming projects that have already successfully funded their ICO’s, or are in the process of doing so, thus offering opportunities for investors. These new video platforms propose an alternative approach for video content distribution by using blockchain technology, combining the advantages of existing video hosting websites, and using their own cryptocurrencies, thus representing the next step in subscription-based revenue. Striving to make it easier for copyrights holders to reach out to audiences, these new video streaming platforms based on blockchain technology will attract more viewers with user-friendly interfaces, viewer recommendation systems, and rewards for active participation. However, after the success of several of these projects, it is becoming increasingly difficult for developers to introduce original approaches.

Decent: A Premier Blockchain Online Content Industry

Prior to the global blockchain phenomenon, in 2016, Decent was one of the first content distribution platforms to launch a successful ICO. The project is based on a P2P (peer-to-peer) open source decentralized platform, designed to distribute videos, music, books, online games, and articles, etc. With the service, users will be able to purchase content from content producers with no hidden fees. The project team claims that they do not extract a penny from the entire content distribution process.

Decent’s developers emphasize the importance of freedom of information, claiming to make this possible when distributing content by bypassing state censorship and firewalls. Decent’s use of blockchain technology will allow content to be distributed from many IP addresses all around the world. The platform will also provide for the possibility of securing the anonymity of content producers, by encrypting their data, which is an important advantage for civil activists, or “whistle blowers,” as the project’s whitepaper states. One of Decent’s target markets is China, with its vast audience and increasing rates of Internet access behind the Great Firewall, a growing market from which the rest of the world’s dominance in blockchain may be soon challenged by Chinese blockchain enthusiasts.

Decent uses Proof of Stake and its own Proof of Custody blockchain technology. The Decent token (DCT) fuels the system. The main participants in the Decent ecosystem are consumers, authors, and publishers (“miners”). Composed of “independent computers connected to Decent network running publishing software to keep the network running,” and who “receive a reward for doing so,” miners ensure the platform principles of preserving content producers’ anonymity as well as free distribution of content.

With its well-developed scheme of content sharing, which is based on slightly modified Bittorent protocol, as well as its methods of file encryption and decryption, Decent’s infrastructure has attracted a lot of attention from the IT community. For instance, during the 8 weeks of the company’s ICO, 38.5 million DCTs (4.1 billion USD) were generated. Users were able to purchase Decent’s tokens with Bitcoins, or other types of cryptocurrency, using Changelly, a digital currency exchange service.

After their successful ICO, Decent expanded its team, adding a number of technological and marketing specialists, with a specific focus on gaining a Chinese audience. The project develops in a sustainable manner, by expanding its partnerships with independent filmmakers as well as online games producers. Decent has additionally launched a beta version of its marketplace, DecentGo, which is built on the company’s own blockchain. These moves clearly demonstrate the deep level of commitment of Decent’s developers to their initial proposal plans.

Advantages: Strong technical background and vision, no additional fees from the platform, successful ICO, commitment to their initial proposed roadmap, and a launch of a beta marketplace platform.

Disadvantages: Unclear vision for content selection and content moderation.

StreamSpace: Comprehensive Commercial Approach, Innovative Film Distribution Model, Unclear Vision

With its intention to support independent innovative movie producers all over the world, StreamSpace offers a well-developed technical ecosystem for content distribution, which includes a recommendation engine, an embedded HTML 5 video-player, and a secure digital wallet. According to the project’s whitepaper, the distinguishing feature of this service is the implementation of a special binary chain blockchain protocol, which allows for StreamSpace tokens “be both a rapid currency for enabling transactions and a secure store of value.” This will be achieved by leveraging both Proof of Work and Proof of Stake protocols for two different types of tokens. One type of token (SSH) will be used in transactions within the StreamSpace ecosystem, while another (SPC) will represent a reward system for maintaining the distributed storage of the video stream content.

The StreamSpace platform promises to help movie producers with their content promotion via crowdfunding ICO campaigns, marketing analysis, and peer-to-peer networking, according to its whitepaper. The project’s main aim is to eliminate the dominance of intermediaries on the current film market, by linking independent movie producers directly to their viewers. StreamSpace promises to initiate a dialogue between content producers and their fans through its recommendation and video evaluation system, which will be introduced on a solid technical platform. The project’s creators will additionally allow filmmakers to realize up to 90% of their revenue, while StreamSpace only keeps a relatively small percentage of transactions for administration and development.

The project’s ICO runs from mid-January 2018, to the end of February. Currently, there is no official information available about the ICO outcome. StreamSpace aims for a softcap of 3.75 million USD. According to StreamSpace’s social media, the project and its team is expanding through hiring new technical support staff, engaging in both offline and online marketing, and actively reaching out to the community of independent filmmakers. However, evidence of technological progress within the project has yet to be seen and evaluated.

Advantages: Good technological background, clear focus on the independent film sector, clear revenue creation model, active marketing campaign.

Disadvantages: No technological product in place, unclear vision for content selection and content moderation.

Verasity: Online Video Ecosystem, Crypto Stock Exchange, Unclear Vision for Content

Developed by Veracity Industrial Networks, a leading cybersecurity and software company, which has been operating since 2014, Verasity developers intend to create a “next-generation video sharing platform.” The company’s main product at the moment is the widely praised Veracity “Cerebellum,” an award-winning SDN platform, which is a “system level approach that responds to sensory data and orchestrates the pre-designed production process response,” according to the company’s website. A video hosting platform, “Verasity” is supposed to be the next project in line, which has already earned it the status of being an entirely compliant SICOP (The Sustainable ICO’s protocol), according to its whitepaper.

Verasity’s key features include the already in place Verasity Player, “VERA” tokens, the service’s cryptocurrency, a patent pending “Proof of View” system, and a blockchain technology for providing transparent audience metrics. In addition, Verasity developers plan to build a whole economy within the platform, by creating a marketplace for providing “funding to content channels, in exchange for a portion of the channels future revenue,” according to the project’s whitepaper. Active users will be rewarded for frequent views and encouraged to buy “shares” of the most popular channel on the platform, using VeraSpark, a SmartContract, which will record the percentage of ownership. This stock exchange in miniature will stimulate content producers to invest in the growth and development of their channel and further engage viewers in the platform’s life cycle. The level of popularity of each channel and video on the platform will be ensured by a Proof of View System, which will transparently verify the audience metrics and contribute to recommendations and content promotion.

With Verasity’s model for monetization and in-depth technological approach, the project stands out from other platforms. Verasity’s largely international team of developers is mainly composed of cybersecurity systems professionals who have been working in the field for years. The team additionally includes a number of blockchain experts, who are considered to be pioneers and “enthusiasts” of the industry, alongside experienced legal, advertising, and marketing specialists.

Adam Simmons has been designated to run Verasity’s video content. While Simmons has been engaged in the online video sector for over 8 years, according to his resume in open sources, it is still unclear whether his single-handed expertise in content distribution and promotion will be enough for this ambitious platform. In addition, the project whitepaper’s section on content moderation appears to be much less specific, when compared with its section on technology. Verasity proposes to manage the project with a “team of administrators,” and to directly engage users into a bug report scheme, which would include rewards for accurately reporting issues with content in the form of VERA currency. The company has not yet announced any agreements with film producers, either large scale, or independent; thus far, the project’s description only mentions the nature of video content it will focus on.

Advantages: Well-established cybersecurity company as its developer, extensive blockchain expertise, well-thought out technological ecosystem.

Disadvantages: Unclear vision for content, weak connection to online video industry.

Bond: Combined Crowdfunding and Video Streaming Service Lacks Technological Expertise

According to its whitepaper, the Bond project strives to create a decentralized online video platform that will “take the corporations and executives out of the game and let the audience invest in projects they believe in.” Bond developers hope to liberate content creators and make it possible for them to attract funding from platform users for their long-term projects at different stages.

The project’s distinguishing feature is their Content Proposals which will appear on the Bond platform and allow users to buy into ownership of a future video, receiving revenues from the number of views it gets. This scheme partly resembles popular crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but the Bond team promises to go further to help content producers attract funding for the different stages of video development. To initiate a public funding campaign, a producer will have to submit a budget and a video project plan and go through due diligence, which will be carried out by Bond specialists. This scheme will allow investors to control the process of video production as well as to ensure the possibility of getting their money back in case a plan fails.

Although their method of gradual crowdfunding appears to be unique to the Bond project, it is unclear how the platform will calculate content popularity, and consequently, the amount of revenue online video creators and investors will receive. These figures are supposed to be based on viewers’ rating, but Bond’s whitepaper does not propose a detailed technical solution to provide transparent audience metrics. Instead, Bond developers intend to use their own calculation formula based on the duration of a video and the so-called “depth” of users’ views, a vague area that could become subject to manipulation as well as generation of fake views, etc.

In addition, the project’s whitepaper and website do not specify which player will be used on the platform, thereby demonstrating the developers’ lack of providing a solid technical background for Bond. Moreover, the project team’s Chief Technical Officer, Alex Smirnov, who is also the founder of Phenom, a blockchain research company, does not state his connection to Bond anywhere in open resources, placing the platform’s technical accountability seriously in question.

Advantages: Focus on crowdfunding activities for content creators.

Disadvantages: Weak technological background, no proven technological expertise of the developer’s team, unclear plan for content selection.

CryptoFlix: Philanthropist Project for Underdeveloped Countries, Established Technology and Video Content

CryptoFlix is an already existing online video platform, which is run by a team of experienced, Oscar-winning film producers. The approach the project takes towards content distribution is quite different from the main alternatives on the market. A portion of the videos, for example, educational content, will be free for individual CryptoFlix users, which demonstrates the charitable nature of the project. The platform developers’ commitment to the philanthropic mission of CryptoFlix will also be embodied in a Charitable Fund, a large part of the project.

CryptoFlix’s primary markets are the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, areas that define the specific technological approach to the project. The platform’s developers will encourage content producers to allow for a download of the content in lower definition, as most of its potential users will view content on smaller screens, with Smartphones and tablets, and do not have access to high speed Internet.

This market positioning will allow CryptoFlix to reach out to vast audiences in third-world countries, which accounts for 4.4 billion people (according to the project’s internal calculation). Most of these audiences live in developing countries with high birthrates and increasing Internet penetration as well as also-increasing rates of Smartphone usage. Another important feature of the project is its focus on locally-produced films, which often lack distribution and exhibition venues to reach international exposure through existing promotion models. This feature will help CryptoFlix strengthen its position in the developing markets of Asian, African, and Latin American countries. CryptoFlix has gained expertise for development on these markets by attracting a strategic adviser for Asia, who is based in India, the fastest growing developing market with the second largest population in the world.

Along with its well-designed marketing position and sufficient content expertise, CryptoFlix’s team focuses on technological development, with its streaming platform in progress since the end of 2017. According to its whitepaper, “It is possible already now to sign up for an account in our early stage proof of concept and soon also to access some content in the form of trailers, small educational films, etc.” Additionally, when considering that CryptoFlix is aiming towards underdeveloped movie markets, where piracy is still a huge issue, the project’s developers will address this concern with their own “groundbreaking technology to watermark a streamed copy of a film individually.”

Advantages: Technological platform is already in place, an educational purpose for the project, commitment to philanthropic ideas, an experienced team in film production, and a clear vision of the targeted markets.

Disadvantages: Unclear vision for content selection and content moderation.

MoviesChain by TVzavr: Established VoD Platform Using Revolutionary Technologies to Improve Independent Film Industry

Developed by TVzavr, an established video-on-demand (VoD) service that has been operating in the Russian market since 2009, its MoviesChain project is supported by a large team of 70 professionals experienced in the online video distribution industry. According to the project’s whitepaper, in 2017, TVzavr had 30 million unique users per month and revenue of 10 million USD. Ranked as “the best provider of entertainment content in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS),” the company’s clients and sponsors consist of Fortune 500 companies, such as Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, 20th Century Fox, Google.com, Pepsico, Lexus, and L’Oreal, etc.

Currently, TVzavr is following the latest technological trends and launching its own blockchain-based platform for independent film distribution, MoviesChain by TVzavr. While the interface for MoviesChain video consumption is already in place, it will be complemented by an Ethereum-based blockchain platform, with the introduction of ZVR cryptotokens, as well as a comprehensive recommendation system, which is largely based on the developer’s expertise in the online video distribution industry over the last nine years. In addition the platform’s developers will protect content producers’ copyrights, using its own Digital Rights Management (DRM) system based on the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-128). This technological side of the project is complemented by a personalized viewing platform, in existence since 2010 and currently available at tvzavr.ru, ruskino.net, on SmartTV devices, as well as iOS and Android.

Focused on the independent film sector, MoviesChain by TVzavr argues that current markets for independent film present a disadvantage for small production studios, which are far too often deprived of access to audiences. MoviesChain’s developers will thus introduce a number of tools aimed at improving and developing the current independent film industry. The well-developed plans for the MoviesChain by TVzavr 2.0 ecosystem will also include: MoviesChain University, offering “a wide-range of Film Education such as Film Production, Film History, Film Theory, and Film Aesthetics courses that have been developed to meet film industry standards”; MoviesChain Screen, a specialized networking mechanism for independent film industry professionals and enthusiasts, which will bring them together to create an environment for collaboration and development; MoviesChain Awards, an Indie film promotion platform, which will encourage competition as well as an exchange of film expertise amongst the community of independent film producers. The platform will also offer a wide range of content promotion and marketing services, all of which are based on the developers’ long experience and expertise in the online video industry.

Distinguished by its developers’ comprehensive approach towards both a well-constructed technological base and its already existing content that will be increasingly added to, the MoviesChain by TVzavr project’s whitepaper outlines the ICO timeline, which begins on April 16, 2018 and runs until July 16, 2018. The project’s softcap is 5 million USD, with a hardcap of 30 million USD. Already a market leader of online cinema, TVzavr’s MoviesChain, with its use of blockchain technology, promises to be a successful ICO launch and continues to attract the experience of tech experts and marketing strategists for their team. The project is currently targeting global markets, such as China, which may possibly prove difficult when considering the highly competitive environment and the brand’s current lower visibility on the global market.

Advantages: Established developer with nine years’ experience in the online video market, technological platform already in place, clear focus on the independent film sector, established agreements with independent filmmakers, commitment to improve the quality of the independent movie industry and its distribution.

Disadvantages: Lower profile on the global market outside Russia.

Cinezen: Existing Online Video Marketplace, No Whitepaper, Unclear Strategy

Russia’s well-respected film industry specialist, Sam Klebanov, the founder of a prominent movie distribution company in Russia, “Cinema without Borders” (“Кино без границ”), intends to conquer the blockchain world with his new start up, Cinezen. The project is a decentralized VoD marketplace in a form of a “shopping mall.” According to the project’s promotion video, the platform will have dedicated “departments” for all of the niche genre segments in the contemporary movie market.

Playing a crucial role in the project’s development is Sam Klebanov’s reputation within movie distribution, which helps to attract investors and to build global relations with movie promoters and copyright holders. The project has already attracted investments from the AltaIR venture fund, a portfolio that includes investments in a number of successful startups, such as Profi.ru, CarPrice, and Cleanly, etc. The project has also partnered with LevelK, a content aggregator based in Copenhagen, Hong Kong, as well as with British and Australian distributor, Celcius Entertainment.

Cinezen’s developers plan to build a transactional business model, which will combine VoD principles with blockchain technologies. The project’s creators indicate that a specialized licensing agreement, “Blockchain Video-on-Demand” (BVOD), was created for Cinezen by the respected law firm of Harris Tulchin & Associates, the first ever document of this kind on the market.

However, the technological details of the project have yet to be revealed, as have the marketing strategy and content selection model as well. While Cinezen is planning to run an ICO in the near future, at the moment the project’s creators have not yet offered any reliable information about the project, except for its founder’s well-deserved reputation in the movie industry and an eight-minute promotion video, wherein Klebanov provides a general overview of the proposed project.

Advantages: Well-established connections in the movie industry, already attracted investors, distribution partners in place.

Disadvantages: No technological product in place, no whitepaper, unclear vision for content selection and content moderation.

SingularDTV: A Tokenomics Ecosystem With A Serious Approach Towards Security And Special Views Upon Content Creation And Distribution

SingularDTV project was one of the first content distribution platforms to launch an ICO in 2016. The project is an already developed content distribution platform, which exists in a form of a Centrally Organized Distributed Entity (CODE). The substance of this organizational structure is that the platform is crowd funded but still remains centrally managed by a team of its developers. Tokenholders receive dividends from the profit flows of SingularDTV but are unable to influence the management process of the project. Project funders will have a share of the platform’s intellectual property, but key decisions on the governance matters will be made by the SingularDTV’s team.

Initially, there were several parts of SingularDTV project: the platform announced its own TV-series about technological singularity and a documentary film “Singular”, which evolves around Ethereum and blockchain. Both shows are already being developed and are available to preview online. The project’s software side includes a video-on-demand and a digital rights management platform. VOD platform partly resembles the already existing platforms such as Netflix or Amazon: SingularDTV plans to buy rights to original content and demonstrate it, using subscription-based model through its tokenized system. DRM platform is based on smart contracts, which are secured by several levels of security systems and embody the decentralized sense of the project.

Part of the tokens issued during the company’s ICO (around 40%) were put into a specialized storage vault, which maintains the SingularDTV fund, aimed at a constant reinvesting of money within the project. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the ownership of such a big share of tokens within SingularDTV platform remains with the project’s founders. They are blockchain professionals with large experience in the industry, but the investors have no choice other than trust that the revenues from the tokens in the vault are actually being reinvested. The project’s investors do not have any means to verify whether the revenues of 40% of tokens are serving to expand and develop the project or are remaining in the pockets of SingularDTV founders. However, these financial issues did not stop the project from collecting 7,5 mln USD during its ICO in 2016.

The project’s team seems to be reliable in the sense of their experience with Ethereum (one of the project’s founders is a former COO of Ethereum). They truly are blockchain and ICO experts who have been working in the field even before the ICO fever broke out. However, there is a downside: the project’s whitepaper is not quite reader-friendly in terms of explaining the project’s ideas and mechanisms, leaving potential investors with a number of graphs and charts and very little narrative.

At the moment, the project is at the development stage with part of the content available online. However, the platform has not been officially launched yet, while the price of the SNGLS token has been falling since mid-January 2018.

Advantages: well-established security system and solid technological background; professional team of developers; own approach towards content creation, selection and distribution.

Disadvantages: too much financial matters depend on developers; user-unfriendly whitepaper.