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Media Technology Special: Blockchain

Fri 14, 06 2019

This article has been taken from the IABM Business Intelligence Digest from June 2019. Click here to view the full Digest.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies, can be defined as a digital, immutable and decentralized ledger that chronologically records transactions in near real-time.

In the process underpinning this technology, a digital transaction is verified and validated by a public or private network of computers (or nodes) and then added to an immutable ledger – the blockchain –as a new block of data. All blocks of data in the blockchain are chronologically linked to each other through timestamps.

Digital transactions going through this process must be approved by all network participants to be added to the ledger – network participants are also able to access all the records in the blockchain. This eliminates the need for a centralized authority to manage the verification process.

Source: Shutterstock

The immutability of the ledger – which is safeguarded by the encryption of each block – prevents participants from changing recorded transactions, thus boosting their trust in the network, and non-participants from accessing them.

The decentralization of the ledger means that there are multiple exact copies of it. This makes sure that, even if one node in the network fails or is hacked, the remainder of it can continue to operate seamlessly. However, it should be noted that this does not make the blockchain impossible to hack.

The concept of blockchain was first introduced in the 1990s but really came into prominence in 2009 with the arrival of the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. The first Bitcoin transaction using blockchain was in fact created by Satoshi Nakamoto – whose true identity is still unknown – in 2009.

Since then, hundreds of competing cryptocurrencies have been introduced. Their price volatility has prompted many to turn their focus on the technology underpinning them.

In fact, companies in various verticals, including media and entertainment, have started testing blockchain technology in different use cases. Investment in blockchain technology has therefore skyrocketed in recent years.

There are several features of blockchain technology that are attractive to the media industry. As mentioned earlier, blockchain is a trust enabler due to its decentralized nature. This may be a panacea for both brands and broadcast advertising sellers. Blockchain also provides tracking and transparency capabilities that are applicable to various media use cases such as monetization and rights management.

Although some media companies have already invested in this technology, blockchain can be considered as a truly emerging trend in this sector.
The next section looks at blockchain adoption in broadcast and media.

Blockchain in Broadcast and Media

State of Adoption

According to IABM data, blockchain adoption in broadcast and media is at a very early stage, as shown by the chart below. 3% of respondents said that they have already deployed some sort of blockchain technology; this is only slightly up from the 1%reported in our IBC 2018 survey.

Source: IABM

Manage and Produce are the most popular for likely deployment of blockchain – at 39% and 33% respectively. Create is in third place with 29%. Store and Consume are at the bottom with only 14% and 12% of end-users likely to deploy blockchain technology.


Blockchain Deployments

The following is a brief list of possible Blockchain applications in the content chain:

  • At the beginning of the content supply-chain, blockchain technology is mostly being explored as a ‘validator’ to streamline metadata management and as a platform to source user-generated content.
  • As of today, most media companies have experimented with blockchain mainly in content publishing and monetization. These applications include advertising, rights management, anti-piracy tools and content distribution platforms
  • In Connect, Store and Support, blockchain has mainly been leveraged in trials to streamline resources and protect content

For a much more detailed analysis of blockchain deployments, IABM members can view our Media Tech Trends report on Blockchain.

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