NFT Activity in the Entertainment Industry: Summer 2022 Update

NFTs and entertainment
Yinchen Niu/VIP

Crypto is down and the value of the majority of NFTs linked to the value of crypto has tumbled, but entertainment companies remain committed to the long-term opportunities NFTs — particularly those providing ongoing utility — offer consumers. 

Variety Intelligence Platform has updated our overview of who is doing what in NFTs with expanded coverage that now splits the companies into four areas: entertainment (TV, streaming & theatrical), gaming, music and sports, many of which have continued to launch new NFT products despite the negative press for the market. 

The majority of major entertainment companies have experimented with NFTs or at least announced plans to do so. The output often takes the form of collectibles based on IP, which is what AMC Networks (“The Walking Dead”), Disney (Marvel, classic Disney characters), Fox (“The Masked Singer,” “Krapopolis”), Paramount (“Star Trek,” “Rugrats” and “Hey Arnold!”), Universal (“Jurassic World Dominion”) and Warner Bros. Discovery (“Shark Week,” DC Comics and Looney Tunes) are all doing. 

Loyalty programs are also in. Already being trialed as a way to reward viewers of some streaming services, Netflix and Paramount have created free games for “Stranger Things” and “Ghosts,” respectively, which gift the first few thousand players to solve puzzles with exclusive NFT rewards.  

Warner Bros. Discovery is also utilizing NFTs as a way to reward audiences, inserting one QR code a night into “Shark Week” content, which encourages live viewership and is a trend to expect many more networks to do in order to boost audience figures. 

Gamers as a whole have not been welcome to the idea of NFTs being added to their platforms. This is evidenced by the lukewarm reaction to Ubisoft’s Quartz marketplace, EA walking back comments on NFTs within its games, as well as Minecraft and Valve’s Steam platform banning NFT integrations. 

Given gamers have been subject to cash grabs like loot boxes by gaming studios for years, it’s not hard to see why there would be built-in resistance. Still, many gaming studios have announced plans for NFTs. These tend to be based upon IP rather than being items that offer utility to users. 

Of note has been the reaction of the major console producers. Microsoft — ultimate owners of Minecraft — have not ruled out sensible NFTs in the future, while Nintendo is aware of the potential but biding its time. Sony recently announced PlayStation Stars but was quick to point out that its digital collectibles were not NFTs, suggesting reticence to the concept within the company. 

Music labels were one of the first to recognize what NFTs could offer for new products to reach consumers. (Watch VIP+’s “State of the Entertainment NFT Market” webinar for insights from Warner Music Group’s SVP of New Business Ventures Alex Kamins on this.)  

Ticketing has been an area many have also embraced, but to varying degrees of utility. Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment have launched collectible NFT versions of tickets for events attended, with Warner Music Group recently announcing plans for something similar. NFT ticketing company YellowHeart has taken a different tack, with the NFT itself the ticket, producing boons for consumers like cutting out fraud and putting limits on the amounts ticket touts can charge. 

Another trend in utility has been NFTs offering various benefits to holders. Tiësto recently released his “All Access Eagle” NFT, allowing for early access to tracks and other yet-to-be-named benefits.  

Snoop Dogg opted for something similar with his “Stash Box” NFT for the “B.O.D.R.” album drop. This allowed for users to possibly win access to an exclusive track, gaming NFTs, exclusive songs from Death Row Records and future NFT access. Seeing more artists opt for limited-edition utility drops seems a given. 

Sports is really embracing the NFT format. Amidst the crypto winter roaring outside, the likes of the NFL, NBA and MLB continue to create new NFT collections. A common theme has been following the lead of the NBA and partnering with Dapper Labs for video highlight collections, as the NFL and UFC have, or creating an alternative highlights product à la the NHL and WWE. 

The majority of leagues have at least one, and sometimes several, lines of trading card NFT collectibles. Another trend to be aware of is the fantasy sports NFT games the MLB and MLS have entered into with Sorare. With the NFL season soon to begin, seeing an NFL fantasy game should be anticipated.