Fox Media is Doubling Down on Blockchain with 9 Franchise-Related Web3 Projects
In an effort to disrupt the TV industry and leverage distributed ledger technology (DLT) for game-changing fan engagement, Fox Media has launched a blockchain-specific division called Blockchain Creative Labs. The division's chief revenue officer Tomasso Sandretto was in attendance at the Outer Edge LA conference and sat down with Blockchain Journal technical analyst Bob Reselman for an in-depth interview regarding Fox's plans for blockchain.
According to Sandretto, one of the first fruits of the division's labor will be the integration of NFTs into the Dan Harmon-created Krapopolis animated series that airs for the first time in Fall 2023. To bring fans on board to a more intimate relationship with the show, Blockchain Creative Labs has minted a collection of 10,000 Picture for Profile (PFP) NFTs featuring Krap Chickens; the currency of the show. The resulting NFT-driven fan experience, said Sandretto in the interview, will involve sneak peeks, in-person activations, rights to vote on the show's content, and even a chance to be on the show.
Not resting on the laurels of the Krapopolis project, Blockchain Creative Labs is following up with NFT-based integrations into the Masked Singer (now in its ninth season) where fans can vote on different components of the show and have access to behind-the-scenes cuts and confessional rooms that nobody else has ever seen. Beyond that, Sandretto and his team are working on a project for Fox Sports that will offer football fans a more engaged experience with the United States Football League; one that connects fans and ticket holders directly with teams and players.
During the interview, Sandretto delves into the challenges in onboarding Fox's audience to a pure Web3 experience and how Blockchain Creative Labs is looking into more of a hybrid approach involving traditional Web 2.0 onboarding techniques that the majority of Fox's audience is undoubtedly more comfortable with (these blended onboarding techniques are often referred to as "Web 2.5" approaches).
By Bob ReselmanPublished:April 3, 2023
Bob Reselman: Hi, I'm Bob Reselman from Blockchain Journal, and I'm reporting to you from Outer Edge 2023 in Downtown, Los Angeles, California at the Los Angeles Convention Center. And I'm going to be interviewing Tomasso Sandretto, the chief revenue officer of Blockchain Creative Labs. How you doing today?
Tomasso Sandretto: Doing great. Thank you for having me, Bob.
Reselman: Hi. I've been looking forward to this conversation. So tell me, Tomasso, what do you do?
Sandretto: Interesting. So Blockchain Creative Labs is Fox's effort in Web3. We mainly focus on tackling Fox['s] initiatives and Fox IPs, and basically, layering a Web3 initiative on them, right? And personally, overseeing revenues and overseeing operations at the company.
Reselman: So tell me, most people when they think of Fox Entertainment, they think Fox News, Fox Television, Fox Sports. How does Web3 fit into the Fox ecosystem?
Sandretto: Well, it's really about creating... When Web3 came around, it was really the opportunity for Fox to build a better and stronger and closer relationship with their fans, right? And across all tents in terms of sports and especially in terms of sports and entertainments where we're focused, it's very... This technology really allows you to build a deeper, better relationship with your fans. So when this was recognized, then Fox Leadership decided to double down on the effort and create a whole separate division, Blockchain Creative Labs.
Reselman: How exactly are you trying to make it work?
Sandretto: Yeah, so we started with [a] few initiatives. We launched about nine projects to date since inception, but we're currently focusing mostly on three projects. The first one is Krapopolis. Krapopolis is Dan Harmon show. We created a PFP collection of 10,000 Krap chickens, which are... actually, chickens are currency in the part of the show. The show is going to air next fall. And basically attached to these chickens, you have a whole fan experience connected with behind the scenes, sneak peaks, in-person activations. You have rights to vote on the show, so you can actually control certain aspects of the show, what goes officially on the show. We got on television. And then finally, last but not least, we basically offered the chance to our fans to be part of the show. So we write you in as part of the show as one of the background characters and it lets you be part of the show as well.
And then, this is very specific to entertainment as well as we launched our... During season nine of Masked Singer, we launched our new version of the MaskVerse experience. This is live voting during the show on-chain where all the fans have the opportunity to vote on the different components of the show and have also access to behind-the-scenes cuts and confessional rooms that nobody else has ever seen. So really, trying to create an ultimate fan experience around this technology. And third is all around sports. Sports is at the core of Fox and USFL is a very important component for us. And creating and connecting the fans, hence the ticket holders directly with the teams and the players. Creating a much closer connection between them, going on the field, meeting them, meet and greets, and doing all that is a great opportunity as a proof case for the technology.
Reselman: Yeah, I've heard the USFL is the new spring league that's going to be starting in a number of cities throughout the United States. I think Birmingham, Memphis, I think New Jersey's going to have a team too. Is that the way it is?
Sandretto: Yeah, absolutely. Last year, it was relaunched last year, and then it's an ongoing effort out of Fox. And it's growing fast, and it's going to be great.
Reselman: So this is really industrial strength Web3. This isn't something that we're going to start in our garage. You guys have been doing this for a long time, and you know what you're doing. I imagine that there's been some challenges for adoption. Do you care to speak about the challenges you face and how you've resolved them?
Sandretto: Yeah, I think the challenges are the same across the industry. The challenges are all connected to the difficulties of onboarding and offboarding the consumers, [and] the customers. It's difficult to process payments. There's a variety of different difficulties that everybody shares, called "the pain". But overall for us, we're really targeting a very normie... We call them like normal, not degen, not Web3 specific target market, so it's even harder than anybody else. So if you were launching a Web3-specific product, it would be much easier and have less friction instead. From our perspective, it's difficult to get the viewership to actually embrace [it] because we're trying to do things at the same time, right? We're trying for you to embrace and learn about Web3 and also embrace the AP and enjoy the experience and then participate in it. So it's a multi-layered experience. So it's certainly not the easiest, but it's been really a fantastic experience for us.
Reselman: So it sounds like you're taking a viewer['s] engagement really to the next level. I mean, when the web came along, we could log into our TV shows, and we could get some emails and do some comment, that engagement level, which was important at the time, but now this is really a whole new landscape.
Sandretto: Well, I think it's what everybody expects these days, right? Everybody has a say. Everybody wants to participate. Nobody wants to sit back and just be on the receiving end of [the] content. Everybody wants to participate in it. Everybody has an opinion. And so we should hear from the fans that we should hear, and they should have a vote in how things actually are evolving. And thankfully, we have an opportunity doing this, as you said at [an] industrial scale, so...
Reselman: That's great. So you are the chief revenue officer and that's a position of considerable responsibility. Have you approached the revenue aspect of Web3?
Sandretto: We've really taken different routes here. Chief Revenue Officer is a title, but it really doesn't mean a lot compared to what we're doing every day, especially in the space. I think there's multiple approaches. The reality is that we had to always be very careful on the way that we positioned our products because the regulation[s] are still out there and still pending, and there's a lot of questions attached to them. So we can't be 100% profit-based business. We have a multitude of free claims in order to create the largest possible tent — as possible — of customers and of fans to then guide them through. And if they want to and if they choose to, to then go through the different paywalls and to improve and to generate some more revenues. But the large majority of the things that we do is really to onboard and try to create the largest possible tent at the moment.
Reselman: Right, that's why. So you're taking an incremental approach. It's like, "Let's get an audience, and let's make it so... access is affordable". It sounds like, "Let's start with an affordable access model and then evolve it over time." Is that an accurate assessment?
Sandretto: Yeah, totally. Yeah, I couldn't have said it better.
Reselman: Thank you. I worked very hard at that. All right. So great. Well, thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Tomasso. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you're all going to be doing in the future. Is there any place we can learn more about this online?
Sandretto: I mean, we have our regular means. So krapopolis.com is [an] internet site, the MaskVerse on Twitter. There's a variety of places where you can... On Fox Resources as well, that you can get all sorts of information.
Reselman: Okay, great. Well, there you have it. I'm Bob Reselman with Blockchain Journal, and I'm coming to you from Outer Edge 2023 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown, Los Angeles, California.