For the past year, NFT has been a hot topic in markets around the world. If you don’t yet know, NFTs are ‘non-fungible tokens’, a digital token that can be sold and traded as a unique item. It has grown in popularity, as various communities have formed to trade and sell certain NFTs. And with such prevalence, it’s no wonder that NFT has spread to several industries: with the most notable example being the gaming industry, where NFTs range from virtual clothing for avatars to medals from winning games.
Now, the trending product is spilling over to the animation industry, at the perfect time, as the NFT market reaches $2.5 billion in sales volume during the first half of 2021.
NFT initially started with pictures, but the natural next step was to encompass videos as well. Videos of real-life events – such as legendary moments in football matches – were sold and traded as NFTs. Viral GIFs were also sold for thousands of dollars. Recently, an animated video by Beeple was authenticated by blockchain (a digital signature that certifies ownership) and sold for 6.6 million dollars. The format has many benefits: with no centralized regulating of content, this could revolutionize video storage and distribution infrastructures. Furthermore, it can be highly profitable for many players in the animation industry. Indie creators can market and profit from their creations independently, whereas companies can release exclusive animated content for ‘super-fans’, similarly to limited-edition versions of DVDs.
Important players in the industry have already started monetizing animation in such ways.
American creator of popular cartoon series Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon, is working with Fox Entertainment to create the first-ever animated series curated entirely on the Blockchain. Fox Entertainment will also launch a brand-new NFT company, Blockchain Creative Labs, which will have a marketplace with products ranging from unique background art and GIFs, and tokens that provide exclusive social experiences”; characters and artwork from Harmon’s series will be NFTs, purchasable for any ‘super-fans’, as Fox’s CEO, Charlie Collier, says. “As an advertiser-focused […] company, Fox is taking advertisers into the world of Block-chain powered tokens,” he summarized, in a presentation in May. The company will be under Scott and Bento Box and will “help shape and grow the fast-evolving world of creatively led digital goods and tokens”.The series is set to come out in 2022.
Other American content platforms have also dabbled in NFTs: Starz, the distributor for American Gods, has released collectibles for its series with NFTs. But Fox Entertainment will be the first major series player to monetize NFTs, with an investment of 100 million dollars.
Animation companies in other parts of the globe are also catching up with this trend. Major Japanese anime companies, DreamQuest Sound and CoolJapan Holdings have partnered with RubiX to launch their anime NFT sales. RubiX is one of the first companies that uses NFT technology that creates no carbon emissions from the creation, transfer and mining of NFTs. Other business players in the country are interested in the NFT trend, citing the country’s rich pop culture as potential to create a new type of digital economy. “Assets work very well with NFTs,” Yusuke Otsuka, co-founder and executive of Coincheck, a bitcoin wallet and exchange service, has stated, assuring a bright future for the Japanese NFT market scene.
As two major players in the animation industry utilize NFTs, we are seeing the beginnings of a new monetization stream in the animation industry, and it is inevitable that others will begin to catch up. With the animation industry exponentially growing $ 642.5 bn by 2030, and the NFT becoming remarkably popular amongst the most popular heads of the industry, there is ample opportunity for the sale of NFTs to become a brand new stream of value within the animation industry.