Alongside the creative challenge of producing and distributing great video content internationally, there is a huge administrative burden. The contributors to the production – writers, director, actors, musicians, and more – all have to be paid.
Sources of funding have to be reconciled, managed and in due course reimbursed. Once the content is complete, then revenues must be collected from those who buy it – broadcasters, OTT services, other distributors, the packaged physical media supply chain, and even individuals. Some of those revenues will be retained by the producer; some will be passed on to the supply side.
At Groupe Média TFO we have an excellent reputation for creating content, particularly for children, and we want to expand our capacity. But as a government-funded body we have to work within strict financial constraints. Working with producers, broadcasters, content funders, government agencies, unions and policies makers, we have developed a prototype platform which uses blockchain to create a completely fresh approach to managing all these relationships.
When a producer sets out to create a piece of content, it requires a large number of contracts with different entities. These might include:
- actors and performers
- composers and musicians, or music libraries
- freelance camera, sound and other technicians
- set designers and construction workshops
- costume rental
- location hire
- post production
You can see how the list can go on. Each of these relationships needs a contract, which will have payment terms. In some cases these contracts will be direct with the individual concerned; in some it will be via an agency or union.
The payment terms will depend upon timing in the production. Some will be paid daily for their contribution; others may have an initial fee and an agreed share of any profits above a given threshold.
At the same time there is another chain of contracts, with those who are going to show the content:
- broadcasters around the world
- content syndicators
- OTT platforms like YouTube or Netflix
- physical media manufacturers (DVDs)
- download-to-own distributors
Again, each will have a unique contract with details of the payment due to the producer. These may be one-off fees, or they may be linked to the number of downloads or DVDs sold.
After the initial release of the production there may be continuing fees for further broadcasts or availability. These are potentially many years into the future, when the team originally assembled to manage the commercial side of the production has long since moved on.
Finally, there will be a third group of contracts, for those offering the finance for the production. They could be co-producers, or they could be dedicated funding organisations like the Canadian Media Fund. The production could even be part-funded by crowdsourcing.
To simplify this complex commercial process, Groupe Média TFO, with the financial support of the Canadian Media Fund, investigated the emerging technology of blockchain.
If the resulting system is to be a success it will need widespread acceptance and adoption, so we brought into the project a broad range of potential users. These include producers, broadcasters, unions, funders, government bodies and policy makers.
The project was a collaborative effort which brought together the experience and expertise of this steering group with the technical expertise of specialist partners. The result is a prototype system called Blockchain TFO.