Innovative technology companies are leveraging blockchain technology to build next-generation business models and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) for video streaming, a multibillion-dollar industry that continues to grow. According to data revealed by Theta Labs, one of the companies covered below, the video content and streaming market accounts for 67 percent of current internet traffic and could reach 82 percent by 2020. The new players promise to decentralize global video streaming, while at the same time making it more efficient.
According to Jeremy Kauffman, co-founder and CEO of the blockchain-based content distribution platform LBRY, blockchain technology could transform the monetization of online content by altering the way that creators get paid, and eventually challenge YouTube.
The LBRY protocol allows creators to publish online, making their content discoverable with a small payment in LBRY’s own cryptocurrency token. Viewers pay creators in LBRY tokens to see their work.
“[Blockchain technology] allows us to build technology that’s owned by the users rather than any one party,” Kauffman said. “That’s the problem that blockchain [technology] solves.”
Kauffman explained that under the LBRY model, creators are paid without an intermediary taking an inappropriately large cut. Since LBRY is a protocol, the company can’t control what gets discovered.
Kauffman said that LBRY recruited 4,000 YouTubers in specifically targeted demographics, several of which have 500,000 or more subscribers, which seems a good first step toward challenging YouTube in its own turf.
YouTube’s co-founder Steve Chen himself, as well as Justin Kan, co-founder of Twitch, are among the advisors of Theta Labs, a subsidiary of live video streaming company SLIVER.tv, which is announcing a new blockchain-based decentralized video streaming network.
“Theta’s innovation is set to disrupt today’s online video industry much in the same way that the YouTube platform did to traditional video back in 2005,” said Chen. “One of our biggest challenges had been the high costs of delivering video to various parts of the world, and this problem is only getting bigger with HD, 4K and higher quality video streams. I’m excited to be part of the next evolution of the streaming space, helping Theta create a decentralized peer-to-peer network that can offer improved video delivery at lower costs.”
Theta is developing a new blockchain-based network, outlined in the Theta white paper, which could enable users worldwide with unutilized PC bandwidth and resources to cache and relay video streams to others in the network, while mining Theta tokens at the same time, similar to Bitcoin and Ethereum. According to the company, the new peer-to-peer decentralized network will allow for much more efficient, high-quality streaming without the need to develop expensive content delivery network infrastructure.
In December, Theta will implement its first generation of ERC20-compliant tokens on the SLIVER.tv platform. These application tokens can be used for virtual gifting and incentivizing streamers. Eventually, these ERC20 tokens will be 1:1 exchangeable for native Theta tokens when the new blockchain launches at the end of 2018.
“We’ve been on the cutting edge of live streaming technology, and by leveraging blockchain [technology] we will truly be able to transform the video and entertainment industry,” said Mitch Liu, co-founder and CEO of Theta Labs. “Theta will be uniquely built to leverage the incentive mechanisms of the blockchain, enabling end-users to contribute their excess PC bandwidth and resources to relay video streams to others and earn Theta tokens at the same time. It’s a win-win for all stakeholders in the ecosystem.
“We’re committed to solving the challenges of today’s video streaming industry,” Liu told eBits.Co. “We think there’s a huge opportunity to democratize the video delivery infrastructure, to reward end users with excess PC resources and bandwidth to help stream to their neighbors and friends.”
“I think the Theta team is going to revolutionize video delivery with its new native blockchain,” Theta advisor and G FUEL CEO Cliff Morgan told eBits.Co. “I’m thrilled to be part of this innovative, organic platform to decentralize streaming. This will impact a number of industries from esports to advertising, benefiting our esports fans as well as influencers and content creators. I can see how Theta’s peer-to-peer mesh network will empower our G FUEL community, rewarding them with Theta tokens when they help stream to others in the network.”
Another new video platform, Stream, has received $5 million to back its Ethereum-based Stream Token in an advisor round of funding led by blockchain investment firms including Pantera Capital, Fenbushi Capital and CoinFund, as well as individual participants like Jed McCaleb, David Johnston and Andrew Yashchuk.
Founded by Ben Yu, Stream wants to facilitate direct transactions between content creators and consumers with a zero-fee structure. Yu was a successful early cryptocurrency investor who became an internet celebrity with videos that received tens of millions of views. In 2011, Yu left his studies at Harvard and accepted a $100,000 Thiel Fellowship, like Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin before him, eventually launching Sprayable and Stream.
The Stream Token was designed to allow digital media creators to earn a fair living from their work, without being exploited by streaming platforms that take unreasonably large shares of their revenue. It is also designed to free content creators from the strictures of advertising models that limit creativity and freedom of expression.
“Stream Token is part of the larger Silicon Valley movement to fulfill the original intention of the internet: universal access to information. We can finally reward those who share information without curtailing freedom of expression. Content creation doesn’t have to be a zero sum game,” said Greg Kufera, CTO of Stream. “And we’re ensuring it won’t be.”
Russian IT Giant Mail.Ru Enables Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash Payments
One of the biggest Russian IT holdings, Mail.Ru Group, is allowing advertisers and the owners of advertising sites to pay and be paid with cryptocurrencies on the advertisement platform myTarget.
Mail.Ru Group is the worldwide technology company which unites three big social networks Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki and My World; ICQ messenger; mobile ads service Youla; popular online games Warface, Allods Online, Armored Warfare and Skyforge; food delivery platform Delivery Club; and ridesharing service Beepcar.
The myTarget platform helps advertising parties purchase and place ads on Mail.Ru properties. It also allows owners of sites to earn money by having ads displayed on their pages.
Using BitPay, bitcoin and bitcoin cash can be used to pay on Mail.Ru as well as on social networks Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte. Odnoklassniki is one of the oldest social networks in Eastern Europe with more than 45 million users. It is especially popular among 30 to 55 year olds. Vkontakte, “The Russian Facebook,” is the most popular social network in Europe with more than 80 million active users and about 460 million registered users. It’s translated into 90 languages but is most popular among Russian-speaking users.
Dmitry Sergeev, the first deputy chief director of Mail.Ru Group said in a statement: “We tend to give our clients maximum opportunities for their business development. The myTarget platform will become a starting point for the ecosystem, which will develop in the future and include other products of Mail.Ru Group, including gaming projects.”
Washington Post Adds Support for Brave Browser, Basic Attention Token
The Brave browser and its Basic Attention Token (BAT) just added another verified mainstream publisher to its list of partners.
According to original posts on Reddit, the Washington Post recently integrated with Brave to accept contributions in BAT on its website. As such, the Post’s readers can now donate BAT to the publication via the Brave platform.
Users trumpeted the news as a major adoption milestone and with good reason. Owned by Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post is one of the largest media outlets in the United States, and this is just the latest publisher to adopt Basic Attention’s model in recent months. Other mainstream publishers that Brave and BAT have on board include Vice and the Guardian (U.K.).
The Washington Post, Vice and the Guardian are all impressive bedfellows, but the Brave browser gets around with more than just media outlets. Popular YouTube channels, such as PewDiePie, Casey Neistat and Philip DeFranco started accepting BAT back in November of 2017, and, this February, the project announced that it has enabled streamers on the popular streaming service Twitch.tv to receive user donations via Brave Payments.
Founded by Mozilla Firefox creator Brendan Eich, Brave offers a eBits. Eich created Brave to fix the problems that plague digital advertising, such as bot views, inequitable share of advertising revenue and fraud. Brave attempts to streamline the process by connecting advertisers and publishers directly, cutting out middlemen and third party partners.
As the first working iteration of BAT’s model, the Brave browser works with publishers and users to deliver a less intrusive and more equitable advertising model. With Brave, users can hide ads from any website they visit on the browser. However, they can also disable this ad-blocking feature and earn a portion of advertising revenue for every ad they interact with. Users can then spend these tokens for services, promotions and the like on participating sites, or they can donate them directly to publishers they especially appreciate if they’re feeling generous.
The platform also anonymously gauges user attention to ensure that publishers get no more or no less than their allotted share of ad revenue. Additionally, it keeps tabs on what ads consumers favor so that advertisers can know which products they should direct at which audiences. Thus, Basic Attention Tokens monetize user engagement so as to reward consumers for their attention; cut publishers a fairer piece of the advert pie; and give advertisers more reliable data on user interests.
Currently, only the Brave Browser supports BAT, but the team has it in its sights to expand the token to other browsers in the future. If the project can onboard more browsers, BAT may become more attractive to online publishers as its proof of concept morphs into adoption.
Image attribution: By Michael Fleischhacker – Own work, Public Domain.
“Cryptocurrency,” “Blockchain” and “ICO” Make Their Merriam-Webster Dictionary Debut
Anyone needing an established definition for “cryptocurrency,” “blockchain” or “ICO” now has a trusted resource: the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. On March 5, 2018, Merriam-Webster announced the addition of 850 new words, phrases and new meanings for existing words to merriam-webster.com and to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary print edition.
Interestingly for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, out of all 850 new words and phrases such as “dumpster fire,” “glamping,” “welp,” and “life hack,” the Bitcoin logo took center stage on both Merriam-Webster’s main tweet and its website announcement about the new dictionary entries. The website also features this statement just above the words “‘Cryptocurrency’ is now in the dictionary” and the Bitcoin logo:
The language doesn’t take a vacation, and neither does the dictionary. The words we use are constantly changing in big ways and small, and we’re here to record those changes. Each word has taken its own path in its own time to become part of our language — to be used frequently enough by some in order to be placed in a reference for all. If you’re likely to encounter a word in the wild, whether in the news, a restaurant menu, a tech update or a Twitter meme, that word belongs in the dictionary.
Emily Brewster, associate editor at Merriam-Webster, stated, “In order for a word to be added to the dictionary it must have widespread, sustained and meaningful use. These new words have been added to the dictionary because they have become established members of the English language and are terms people are likely to encounter.” The addition to the Merriam-Webster dictionary of the words cryptocurrency, blockchain and ICO seem to fit those criteria well.
cryptocurrency noun cryp·to·cur·ren·cy ˌkrip-tō-ˈkər-ən(t)-sē , -ˈkə-rən(t)-sē : any form of currency that only exists digitally, that usually has no central issuing or regulating authority but instead uses a decentralized system to record transactions and manage the issuance of new units, and that relies on cryptography to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent transactions. First Known Use: 1990
blockchain noun block·chain ˈbläk-ˌchān : a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network; also : the technology used to create such a database. First Known Use: 2011
ICO noun ˈī-ˈsē-ˈō : an initial offering of a cryptocurrency to the public : initial coin offering. First Known Use: 2014
Bitcoin was added to the dictionary in April of 2016.
The dictionary’s editors added two other words that describe how money is organized and distributed: “microcredit” and “microfinance.” Other new entries include previously existing words with additional new meanings, such as the venture capital term “unicorn” (noun used figuratively to mean a startup valued at $1+ billion); the psychophysical word “bandwidth” (noun used figuratively to mean “emotional or mental capacity”); and the web-centric words “case-sensitive” and “subtweet.”
There were some tongue-in-cheek comments on the Twitter announcement, including “GenZ hijacking language and grammar, while the adults still think they are in control of the narrative;” “The damnable youths seek to corrupt the invaluable and inviolable institution of tongue to their own devices;” and “Didn’t add covfefe?”
Merriam-Webster has not yet released a full list of the new words and phrases, though “HODL” is not included in the current update.
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