Making Sense of the New Internet Wave — Do You Need a Head of Cryptomedia?

Crypto has disrupted the world of finance, but that’s not the extent of its influence. It has revolutionized the gaming and betting industries and is even allowing artists to generate recurring revenue from their creations through non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Now, sports brands are using them to create closer, more directly served fan communities.

The use of crypto to engage with audiences is a new paradigm for the media and possibly the next wave of how we use the Internet. That’s why Copa90, the football fan platform, has appointed its first-ever head of cryptomedia. Should other publishers be following its lead?

What Are NFTs?

An NFT is a digital asset representing a “collectible,” guaranteeing its authenticity via the same blockchain technology supporting cryptocurrencies. NFTs can’t be forged or manipulated because they are unique sets of code with distinctive properties. They are exchangeable and can be sold on specialist sites that verify and validate their ownership and the transfer of tokens between owners.

While NFTs use the same technology as cryptocurrencies, the similarities stop there. Cryptocurrencies are deliberately interchangeable in that they are equal in value and can be exchanged for one another — they are “fungible.” So one Bitcoin is always equal to another Bitcoin in the same way one dollar will always equal another. But NFTs are not equal to each other, in the same way the Mona Lisa isn’t equal to a Banksy.

What Are NTFs Used For?

NFTs have been available since 2015, but the “mainstreaming” of cryptocurrencies has sparked renewed public interest in the concept. In addition, consumers are familiarizing themselves with the concept of digital content as investments now that there is a way to impose the laws of scarcity. Plus, content creators are learning how to leverage fandom and the economics of royalties.

One of the earliest and most ubiquitous uses of NFTs is within the online gaming industry, where developers offer benefits through NFTs. For example, players can buy items for their games and recoup their money by selling them when they’re done.

However, the most significant use of NFTs today is in digital content, where they give creators ownership of their content rather than the platforms that publish it. For example, consider artists who publish their work for free on social media in the hopes of raising their profile. They don’t realize any direct remuneration from their work, but the publishers do via increased viewing and attention.

Now, when someone buys an NFT, they have ownership of the content, but it can still be made available online. Thus, it can gain popularity and develop value. And whenever it changes hands, both the original creator and the publishing platform get a cut, and the current owner keeps the balance of the sales price, creating a recurring revenue stream.

The Use of NFTs in Sports

The NBA recently launched Top Shot, an online marketplace selling video clips of game highlights. A rarity like a LeBron James dunk will command a higher price than a clip from last week’s game. But the latter could appreciate if it captures a rising star. Buyers are collecting the clips the way baseball cards were once collected, sometimes reselling them for considerably more than they paid for them.

NFTs are playing an increasingly prominent role in Japanese sports, too. For example, the Yokohama-based basketball team, the B-Corsairs, has partnered with the Financie platform to release fan tokens that will be used to raise money for strengthening the team and paying for its operating expenses. In return, fans receive voting rights in certain club-related matters, entries to prize drawings, special seating, and opportunities to meet the players and coaches. A Yokohoma-based football club that also partnered with Financie has even given token holders exclusive access to a friendly match.

Copa90’s new head of cryptomedia, Petrit Berisha, says, “We want to create the biggest community of football fans in the world via Discord or some other means. Eventually, we will look at how we hand over the ownership and the running and governance of that community to the fans itself, and that’s when we can start looking at things like token gating and creating a circular economy where the revenue derived is generated for the whole community and not just for Copa90.” Staked-in members could add legitimacy to online communities and allow them a voice in the management of their teams.

The Use of NFTs in Media

Platforms that put power back into the hands of creators, like the independent music streaming and sharing platform Audius and apps like OnlyFans could soon challenge traditional online publishing models. Publishers must consider how they provide value in a circular economy where power is distributed between the creators, consumers, and themselves.

In media, possible avenues may lie in token-gated content or content that’s exclusive to NFT owners. Whatever the way forward may be, we’ll likely be seeing more “heads of cryptomedia.”

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David Geithner is a senior finance executive who draws upon nearly three decades of experience to serve as EVP Strategy & Business Development

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David Geithner

David Geithner

David Geithner is a senior finance executive who draws upon nearly three decades of experience to serve as EVP Strategy & Business Development

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