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Why Fox is betting on NFTs

Mar 14, 2022
Animated illustration of an ornate frame with falling dollar signs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Fox Entertainment is betting that NFTs are going to be more than just a passing fad and could reshape how content is owned and financed.

Why it matters: While competitors pan for streaming gold, Fox is eyeing a rapidly growing industry that's bigger than Hollywood.

  • Last year, the company launched Blockchain Creative Labs (BCL) with a $100 million investment, becoming the first Hollywood player to dive into NFTs.
  • BCL partnered with Fox's "The Masked Singer" for its first NFT marketplace. Since then, BCL has launched NFT marketplaces with the WWE, the USFL, 'Rick and Morty' co-creator Dan Harmon and Dolly Parton.

The big picture: There's a growing chorus —and tension — in the broader entertainment world from those seeing value in the NFT space.

  • Quentin Tarantino set off a legal battle between the director and Miramax after he tried to sell NFTs based on his original handwritten script for "Pulp Fiction."
  • Miramax attempted to block the sale by claiming they owned the rights to the script, not Tarantino.
  • Tarantino ended up selling the first NFT for more than $1 million.

What's next: BCL views the growing NFT and web3 space as more than just a digital storefront.

  • "We're not in this get-rich-quick world of 'let's go sell a piece of art, make some money,'" BCL CEO Scott Greenberg told Axios. "We're looking five years down the road of the future of entertainment. What's the future of content distribution? What's the future of content financing? The future of content production?"
  • Harmon's upcoming animated series for Fox, called "Krapopolis," is being created entirely on the blockchain, which Greenberg argues allows fans to have actual ownership of the show.
  • "We're ultimately about shared interest, shared success with our fans and our creatives. So how do we do that in a way that's authentic?" he says.

Yes, but: There still remains a lot to be worked out from a regulatory standpoint when it comes to using the blockchain to finance content projects.

  • "We're all extremely excited by the future for fan financing of content," BCL president Melody Hildebrandt says. "But while that's still being hashed out by regulatory bodies, I think there's preparatory steps that we can do to begin to get the community activated in this more bidirectional relationship."

Another priority going forward is distancing NFTs from "the baggage of crypto," as Hildebrandt puts it. "This is not about crypto bros. This is actually about empowerment and democratization.

"The bottom line: Fox is likely to have competition in this space — and soon. BCL is betting that getting out ahead of everyone else will keep them in the lead.

  • "We see it as kind of a leap-frogging opportunity," Hildebrandt says.
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