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article imageBlockchain grows up: White Rabbit monetizes film rights cash flow Special

By Paul Wallis     Feb 19, 2018 in Technology
Los Angeles - This IS huge, and it’s happening now. Blockchain is entering real commerce, in a big way. A company called White Rabbit has a browser plug-in using blockchain to monetize film streaming rights and deliver viable cash flow.
This is truly huge, in a very practical way. White Rabbit aims to fix, permanently, piracy and the hideous problems created by a slapdash, out of date approach to payments for media downloads and streaming using blockchain. They use a pretty straightforward version of blockchain dynamics and a simple payment system to solve the problems experienced by media people around the world.
This could well be the digital transformation which allows artists, creative people, and rights owners to get decent, standardized payments for their works.
Streaming is a $65 billion dollar industry and growing very fast. It’s also an ungodly mess. Most people don’t know that the payments system for streaming and downloads is chaotic and very unfair, ridiculously inefficient, and highly insecure.
White Rabbit fixes that, using a blockchain payments system at standard rates. “Standard rates” is a very big deal indeed.
If you’re a creative person or production company, how would you like $1 per hit? For many artists and creative productions, that would be huge money, and solve a lot of problems.
The issues
THE big issue for media rights owners is getting paid for downloads and streaming. The problems are so astonishingly basic:
1. There are endless options for putting your work where someone can download it or stream it. The question is how to make money out of this process. Media production is time-consuming and expensive. Cash flow is critical to ongoing work and not going nuts. NONE of the current options deliver good cash flow. It’s an extremely bad joke.
2. Can you really get a decent amount of money for your work when someone downloads or streams? The answer at the moment is a very bureaucratic, unreliable, “Well…sort of, a bit, maybe.” That’s just not good enough.
3. Piracy is a major deal in modern media. Nothing is secure, and everything, that means everything, is instantly pirated. Everybody, including artists, production, and rights owners, is massively ripped off almost immediately their products hit the market. See this link, “Film industry out of ideas to beat piracy” for a current version of these problems.
4. Distribution of media, particularly media that pays the people who make it, is also highly inefficient. There are millions of creative media artists, and only a very few major distribution options, most of which don’t work financially for artists and producers. It’s the usual story with the arts and media – A very few people make billions, the other 99% make spare change, if that.
This is a rather simplified version of the global issues for artists. It weighs on my mind a lot, because I want to do my own media, but not on the suicidal, frustrating terms of payment as above. I’ve done enough “involuntary charity work” for other artists and media companies. I want to make some money myself, for a change.
Cash flow matters, particularly when you’re doing actual production. I’m a real artist and a very untrusting, cynical one at that; I don’t like scrimping and saving to pay for production, pay bills, live and eat. I need to prove to myself that there’s a viable cash flow option before I’ll do anything.
So when I got contacted by a very nice lady called Jessica, telling me about White Rabbit, you could hear my jaw drop on Mars. Jessica sent me a beautifully written info sheet about White Rabbit. This info sheet was better written than any prospectus I’ve seen since about 1988, and it said so much, so clearly.
Industry people – Please read the White Rabbit info sheet. I don’t want to say a word which might be even slightly misleading. The White Rabbit idea is way too important for any half-ass interpretations or digressions from the core business issues.
Interview with Alan Milligan, CEO of White Rabbit
I had the opportunity to get in touch with Alan Milligan, CEO of White Rabbit, for an interview. A look at the White Rabbit website will tell you that Mr. Milligan and his team are ultra-experts in their fields. They’ve got a collective CV that looks like a benchmark example of “who you need to start a revolution in media.” I’d also like to thank Alan Milligan and his team for their time and effort in putting this interview together.
Anyway - After I climbed down off the ceiling, I wrote some interview questions for Alan, and this interview is what I got.
Blockchain is now moving far beyond its original novelty/crypto-fad origins into real commerce. WR looks like a first practical application of blockchain in commercial terms on a very large scale. What are the issues for WR, trying to make this work?
Our first challenge is convincing the film industry that peer-to-peer (P2P) is the way to go for streaming content. About 200M Europeans stream illegally while 20M subscribe to Netflix – I´d say that’s a good start. We need to realize there is more value in maximizing our IP where people choose to stream, rather than making it inaccessible and locking it away. None of the business models today maximize IP for independent producers for arthouse or indie film. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Netflix is no longer a distributor but a movie studio with near total domination on the global streaming market. Monetizing content with White Rabbit on its P2P tokenized (incentive) system offers the tv/film industry, producers, investors, and artists/entertainers an alternative, transparent, cash-flow positive revenue stream that far surpasses what the subscription models have to offer.
Our other challenge is getting the word out and establishing enough trust, which, fortunately, has a promising outlook. People need to feel safe in installing the browser plug-in. They need to know that White Rabbit Token (WRT) is encrypted. We also need users to understand blockchain and its enormous potential to deliver a fair deal for everyone. We call blockchain a trust-less system, but I believe it’s opposite - it fosters trust. The money issue is done away with and taken out of the equation. That allows normal human relations and interactions without suspicion and temptation dividing people and leaving people astray.
White Rabbit has taken on a massive task, in trying to reform the notoriously insular film and streaming sector. How’s the response been, so far, from industry heavyweights and insiders?
There’s been massive interest. I´ve been invited to the Berlin Film Festival this year to moderate a panel on new avenues of online distribution and also join a roundtable on blockchain’s ability to transform the film industry. The film industry recognizes that today’s business models no longer work, which is why creators want alternative solutions and need them. Too few filmmakers and creators today make a living off their art and the entertainment they provide. That’s going to change, and we all know it.
This is a very new approach. How do you think the ultra-cash-conscious film production and distribution part of the sector will respond to such a very different approach?
It’s going to be a game changer. If we allow fans to pay rights holders for the film and television series they watch directly, it will be a massive improvement of what most streaming payment models currently offer over a five year period. Not only does White Rabbit give producers and filmmakers liquidity and revenue transparency, but it also provides incentives to investors. Film investments will have a higher ROI if we can deliver revenue just days after a streaming premiere versus the 3-5 year framework that’s offered today. That is the way White Rabbit´s business model can bring much more investment opportunities to the film industry because our model will be much more attractive and competitive than other investment opportunities. Also, there will still be red carpets.
One thing that wasn’t clear to me was the “Tokens” information in the White Rabbit info doc. For the sake of absolute clarity – The theory seems to be that content rights holders get paid in White Rabbit tokens, convert to cryptocurrency, then fiat currency? Can you spell out how this works, and the values in this process for content rights holders?
The White Rabbit Token is a guarantee by the user to initiate a transaction for content at the request of the content rights holder (CRH). The tokens are placed in an encrypted distribution pool until White Rabbit contacts the rights holder and makes the offer of transferring the tokens. I find it’s always easier to start a negotiation if you bring something to the table of interest. The rights holder accepts the tokens by entering into a smart contract with White Rabbit, which will allow users to stream and pay for the content they consume. From that point forward, all payments will be automatically transferred to the rights holder. They can then use the White Rabbit Tokens (WRT) for the Rabbit Hole and transfer them to a cryptocurrency, FIAT or other tokens – whatever is available on the second-hand market. White Rabbit is not currently involved in that, but that is a possibility of today’s market.
If the rights holder rejects the tokens, the tokens are returned to the user, and no transaction occurs. Furthermore, nobody - not even us - know who the token holder is since the distribution pool is encrypted on the blockchain.
The considerable value here is that CRH can convert pirates to fans by allowing them to pay for the content they consume wherever they choose to stream it. Rewarding fans and offering them the freedom to stream where they prefer is hugely important, given all the alternative types of entertainment offered today.
Given that WR tokens are wed to cryptocurrencies in that sense, how do you feel about the current train wrecks in Bitcoin, etc.? Do you see that as a problem for WR? Is there an option to convert WR tokens directly to fiat currencies?
White Rabbit token holders can use the full extent of the secondary market with the option to trade WRT for other tokens or cryptocurrencies. Trading for FIAT directly from a token will likely be an option down the road. The world cannot deny the opportunities of blockchain and crypto, but, it does need time to develop. In the meantime, token-to-crypto-to-FIAT is a viable option.
How are tokens valued for users who buy them, given the benchmark $2 per film and $1 per episode benchmark?
Content is pegged at a FIAT price, but rights holders may adjust the price after they enter into smart contracts. White Rabbit is changing the entertainment industry one step at a time, as fans watch films and series and offer tokens to rights holders. We are also expanding the functionality of tokens with the Rabbit Hole, where third-party developers can create applications, offer incentives and interaction to fans and monetize content such as extras, new versions or merchandise for a tv series/film. We aim to create an entire ecosystem for film, from the time you stream from your library to purchasing merchandise. The more content converted to White Rabbit, the more value the WRT token holds.
Are WR tokens intended to become a more commodity-like medium of exchange option for the industry, given that they’re used by both CRH and users?
It can be. We are currently concentrating on the immediate task at hand first. Though, we will see what the future brings, but our ecosystem could possibly expand to financing films as well. It would be great to have that direct connection between fans and filmmakers to content investments, creation and revenue.
Do you envisage WR moving on to encompass other media products, like advertising, web content, etc.?
I’m not a fan of advertising. However, I am a huge fan of football (soccer) and Newcastle United especially. I want to watch Newcastle´s games every week, but because of the current streaming business models, I’m restricted to do so. I don’t want to watch the Manchester Utd games, but many weekends that’s the only option I have. This business model is why people are streaming football illegally on a massive scale. We could help the Premiere League and the clubs reach their fans on a weekly basis.
The “better business models for creatives” option is long overdue, particularly the better cash flow incentives from WR. Can small-scale creative productions get meaningful traction using the WR model, and can you give an example which might help startups?
Arthouse and indie films stand to gain the most. They would increase their global audience and have transparent revenue and immediate cash-flow. All things we don’t have today. That’s why we launched the Partner Streaming Sites initiative, which will allow revenue sharing with P2P streaming sites that will ensure the highest standards in UI. This includes respect for rights holders and content quality and diversity and innovation in branding, search and recommendation solutions. We can create a business model for niche streaming sites or country-specific streaming sites. Nordic Noir fans will know where to go for the best websites to watch Nordic Noir as well as producers when they launch their film. There will no longer be a reason to be turned down from iTunes or Amazon.
Also, we need much better innovation in content search and recommendations because what’s available today is hardly worthy of being called an algorithm. In order to achieve innovation, we need to reward a competitive streaming industry that doesn’t force users to have twenty different subscriptions and conduct twenty searches to find what they’re looking to watch. This is long overdue, and blockchain coupled with a competitive streaming market is something that will benefit both fans and the film industry immensely.
The market MUST test White Rabbit
The proof of White Rabbit will be in real market business in the real world. White Rabbit is clearly a better concept, with better systems, better metrics, better security, and better ways of doing business for cash flow. Doing nothing is not an option.
I think White Rabbit is the start of a game-changing shakeup in media rights monetization which will spread to all other types of media. White Rabbit can deliver what everyone in media needs – Clarity, security, and credible cash flow. If this is the beginning, the rest of the story should be fabulous.
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