Blockchain-Based Video Streaming: Progress for Democracy?
Blockchain could create a more open and more inclusive video-streaming economy, which could be beneficial for both artists and users. What does already exist, and what could the future look like?
Video streaming has become an industry on its own since the rise of social media. “Influencers” and “Vloggers” have created entire business models leveraging streaming platforms. And while this new form of video sharing brings an array of benefits, it has also created challenges.
How to ensure that no centralized entity, such as a government or a corporation, censors information? How to protect users’ privacy and security? How to monetize streaming services and incentivize users to share? Blockchain technology may hold some answers to these questions.
Blockchain for democracy?
Governments and businesses are influencing what we can see online. In China, for example, the government censors movies by cutting out certain scenes or blacklisting the respective films altogether. In the U.S., lawmakers have recently raised concerns that social media companies can block content on their platforms if it does not correspond with their political views, thereby manipulating the outcome of democratic elections.
The ability to democratize social media content might be one of the core strengths of blockchain technology. Both the internet and Blockchain were designed around the idea of lowering barriers and democratizing access to information and resources. Blockchain and crypto are borderless, and no government or company has the power to censor or block content.
That said, while blockchain could enable a completely free and open video streaming platform, a question that remains is how to prevent the sharing of illegal content. Critics say the mix of anonymity and zero moderation would allow some users to spread potentially dangerous rhetoric.
Secure video chat platforms
The video chat platform Zoom has recently made headlines as video conferences allegedly were not safe from privacy intruders. Brave Browser, a privacy-centric cryptocurrency-powered web browser, then launched encrypted video calls.
Blockchain, by its very nature, was designed to encrypt and secure information. Whether or not it can ensure streaming security is up for controversy. Reuben Yap from Zcoin told Cointelegraph:
“Blockchain’s main benefit is that there is no central authority, but alone, it does nothing to secure communications. […] The key issues are scalable end to end encryption (which is tough) but perhaps more importantly, implementations that are designed with security in mind but remain easy to use.”
Higher profit margins for artists
On the business side, a blockchain-based video streaming platform might create new opportunities for artists to monetize their content. On a blockchain-based streaming platform, users could pay with tokens every time they want to watch a video. Instead of paying a monthly flat fee like with Netflix, users would only have to pay for services that they actually use.
Users could also directly purchase from content creators, cutting out the platform provider as the middleman. As no percentage is paid to third parties, all parties would retain more value. If such a platform would reach a sufficient scale, that would essentially be the end of business models such as Netflix and Amazon TV, where a handful of dominant players controls supply.
Where are we will all of this? Still at a very early stage. But companies like BitTorrent, Audius, or VideoCoin have already started to provide blockchain-based streaming platforms. Whether or not they will reach the scale to challenge their centralized opponents remains to be seen.