The Buzz on Blockchain

By Guy Finley, Executive Director, MESA –

Every few years a new buzz word travels around Hollywood. Some come. Some go. Some are glorified to oblivion. Others ride through Gartner’s “hype curve” and become part of our workflows, transforming the way we create, distribute and monetize entertainment content. And these days, there’s plenty of buzz about blockchain.

Simply put, blockchain — the underlying technology behind Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies — allows users to authenticate every step of any digital workflow, supply chain or transaction. It’s ideal for a global, decentralized industry such as ours because it assures that every handoff of a digital file (finished or unfinished) is registered and secure.

While block-chain has the potential to impact advertising, talent and distribution, there’s still a huge amount of confusion about exactly what blockchain means and how our industry should tackle it. Permission-free or permission-based?

You may have heard that blockchain “makes the internet honest.” This bold, but substantiated, claim makes more sense if we understand both the technology and how it can impact our existing business models in entertainment. A better revision would be that blockchain “makes transactions honest” and there is no doubt that honest accountability among partners is critical to our automated future. Advertisers anticipate that blockchain will eliminate online fraud. Studios hope it puts an end to content theft and impacts rights management as well as payouts.

Operations management expects blockchain to keep partners in sync and accountable. Legal contemplates it being the catalyst for smart contracts and more transparency.

Like many technology innovations, blockchain has emerged at an important juncture in our industry’s transformation. We’re going digital. We’re going global. And now we’re going direct to consumer. As a result, the timing couldn’t be better for our industry leaders to make a collaborative, concerted effort to educate, experiment, fail fast and share what we learn.

So, how should we proceed?

MESA has featured blockchain discussions, panels and presentations at each of our conferences this year — and it seems like every time they’ve generated more questions than answers. Since we’re all at such an early stage here, MESA’s content advisors and advisory board have suggested that we launch an industry workgroup where the conversation and education can continue.

I’m betting that as our industry’s technology leaders come together in this collaborative setting we will develop a common language and understanding of this multi-faceted technology, identify best practices, software applications/ integrations and eventually put theoretical blockchain “experiments” to the test.

And we will all accelerate, as an industry, to a practical understanding of this fascinating technology, along with the best use cases and proof of concepts that will ultimately save every one of our companies’ time, money and wasted effort in the process.

I look forward to learning more, hearing the buzz and ultimately making more honey.


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