Former ad exec Krish Arvapally is building a look-to-win model similar to one in games, but the concept is yet to be tested.
“The goal is to bring transparency to content creators, to pay them in real time. For the viewer as well, we want to make sure he gets a fair deal too, in terms of rewarding him for watching,” Arvapally told TheWrap. “They get a completely ad-free experience and… without any kind of subscription commitment experience.”
After a career in advertising and media for the past 15 years, Arvapally co-founded Replay, a blockchain video tracking and payments platform. The CEO is leading the company in its current launch of Rewarded TV, a decentralized streaming platform that pays people to watch with the goal of creating a community-driven content platform.
With Rewarded TV, Arvapally also aims to solve a problem of payments and transparency in the media business. The idea for Rewarded TV came to Arvapally when it noticed recurring processing issues in a fragmented streaming business, from rights holders to content providers and creators. He wanted to create his next platform to streamline this work and reduce payment-related headaches.
“Everyone had the problem that the rights holders worked on one side and then they had to monetize the content and deal with the viewers on the other side,” Arvapally said. “That whole process of content onboarding is a whole process of the digital prep work that needs to be done. And by working with the different partners, we have each of those different partners or clients that have to go through this process.”
The platform offers some classics, series, independent movies, and linear and live channels, including titles from the “Ancient Planet” series. Content partners range from small studios to license and rights holders or content aggregators. Some of them include Monarch Studios, Shoreline Entertainment, Film Hub, Sports Illustrated and Al Jazeera, which together offer thousands of hours of free shows and movies, Arvapally said. The company declined to tell us its number of current users or how many content providers it is paying.
The “watch to win” model is similar to the play to win models seen in games, which incentivize users to play to unlock certain achievements, physical and digital goods, or other in-game rewards. For Rewarded TV, users will be able to spend tokens to unlock restricted content and pay only for what they watch, be it minutes or hours, and content owners will also be able to create NFTs that grant access to premium content or other benefits they choose. . These work differently than streaming subscriptions which are a recurring cost; NFTs are a one-time cost for that digital asset.
“The way we’re going to monetize it is … we’re going to offer NFT-controlled content for premium content, so we’re partnering with some premium and top-tier studios and licensees,” Arvapally said. “And the NFTs will provide lifetime access to full premium content in real movies.”
But experts wonder if RewardedTV will work. Even in the gaming industry, the play-to-win model of crypto is still an early experiment, according to Corey Wilton, co-founder of blockchain gaming firm Mirai Labs. While several games, such as “Axie Infinity” and “Illuvium,” have gained a lot of attention with the approach, he said, it’s hard to say which ones are successful at this stage.
“Despite the billions that have flown into the niche industry, there is still no complete game from a game studio,” Wilton said.
Wilton believes this model would be a hard sell in media and streaming services, mainly because the economics become difficult to scale. “People who earn just by using a service they previously used to get free results is a user base that is only interested in making money,” she explained. “The reality of the situation is that you cannot bring $100 million to a platform and have users earn $200 million. At some point, the easy ‘win’ cycle dies because it fails to attract new money, and with that, the user base dies too.”
There are also other content downsides to play-to-win structures, said Peter Csathy, president of CREATV Media, because players or viewers are motivated to play non-stop to squeeze in the hours and maximize their earnings. This business model rewards “blind consumption above all else,” he told TheWrap.
“Making money just by watching has real power,” ‘Csathy said. “These new economic incentives will absolutely drive streaming consumption of individual titles and ultimately expand audiences and create new content brands, but not necessarily because of the quality of that content.”
Next quarter, Rewarded TV expects to start integrating rewards into the platform and introduce premium content in exchange for tokens. For the fourth quarter, it plans to build out NFTs to support content creation and expand its content distributors. For Arvapally, the biggest change coming in the media industry will be the financing of movies, from the studio level to the distribution side, and blockchain will be just the beginning of this change.
“The way movies are made or produced will be different, from the artists to the hundreds of people behind the creation of the content,” Arvapally said. “There is going to be a change in the way everyone is compensated. It will be more community-driven, more open…especially when visibility and transparency is embraced on the blockchain.”