July 14, 2022
Photo: Steven Lozano/Unsplash
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Thursday, we’re taking a look at the effect the metaverse will have on Hollywood, as well as Netflix’s advertising deal with Microsoft. Also: A fake sports league.
If anyone knows how Hollywood should prepare for the metaverse, it’s Matthew Ball. The former Amazon Video executive has become the number one expert on the next version of the internet, thanks to a series of essays on the subject.
This month, Ball is publishing his book, “The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything.” The work explains in detail what the metaverse is all about and which shifts in tech, business and culture need to fall into place for it to come into existence.
A few days ago, I chatted with Ball about the book, the rapid pace of change and the biggest misconceptions about the metaverse. You can read all about that in my Q&A with Ball, but there was one more subject I was curious about:
How will the metaverse change Hollywood? In his book, Ball argues that people tend to underestimate the changes new technologies will have on media and entertainment.
Virtual production will be key to enabling this future, according to Ball. Studios have been embracing real-time production technologies, including game engines and LED walls, to speed up productions while also giving directors more tools to find that perfect shot.
Which studio is best positioned for the metaverse? Ball’s money is on Disney. “We are likely to underestimate their fit into this next-generation internet,” he told me.
— Janko Roettgers
Soul Machines co-founder and CEO Greg Cross and his co-founder Mark Sagar, Ph.D., FRSNZ are leading their Auckland and San Francisco-based teams to create AI-enabled Digital People to populate the internet, at first, and soon the metaverse.
Netflix took the media world by surprise Wednesday by announcing it had selected Microsoft to power its ad-supported plan. Under the deal, Microsoft will both sell and serve ads on Netflix worldwide when the company’s cheaper plan launches later this year.
Microsoft does have some experience selling ads. The company’s ad business surpassed $10 billion in 2021, and it spent a reported $1 billion on the acquisition of ad tech specialist Xandr (formerly known as AppNexus) from AT&T.
What do the experts think? Many were still rubbing their eyes and scratching their heads after the announcement went out.
What does this mean for Netflix’s gaming business? Given that Microsoft is better known for games than ads (and its decision to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion), many wondered Wednesday whether gaming was the real motivator for this pairing.
— Janko Roettgers
Netflix may have to pay more for ad-supported content. Netflix is eager to launch an ad-supported tier this year, but Hollywood studios may require the company to relicense their content for a premium to do so.
GameStop launches its NFT marketplace in beta. The struggling retailer’s NFT marketplace went live this week, featuring hundreds of collections and thousands of NFTs, with prices for individual tokens soaring well into the hundreds of thousands and even a select handful listed for multiple millions of dollars.
BBC iPlayer usage is up 8% year-over-year. The public broadcaster’s free streaming service is now being used by 12 million people per week on average.
Unity will merge with ad company IronSource. Both companies’ stocks have tanked lately due to the economic downturn and Apple’s mobile privacy changes. Now, they’re merging in hopes they can weather the storm until mobile gaming revenues recover.
HBO in talks to return to Amazon Channels. HBO opted out of Amazon’s subscription video marketplace to fully own the customer relationship. Now, the company may be changing its tune.
Magic Leap starts selling new headset in September. The enterprise-focused Magic Leap 2 headset will become available on September 30, with prices starting at $3,299.
VR documentary lands on HBO Max. “We Met in Virtual Reality,” a dating documentary that was entirely filmed in VRChat, will land on the streaming service on July 27.Spotify gets into interactive entertainment with Heardle. The streaming service has acquired the music-based Wordle offshoot as its first-ever gaming acquisition. The company will keep it as a stand-alone website for now.
Leave it to criminals to finally make sports streaming interactive: A group of Indian fraudsters came up with an elaborate scheme to make some easy money through sports betting. They set up an entire fake cricket league, complete with staged games that were streamed on YouTube. Depending on the bets, the participants of the fake tournaments were told how to perform, the BBC reported this week. However, someone tipped off local law enforcement, putting an end to the entire operation. All that’s left now is a YouTube page with a bunch of videos showing lucky players always beating the odds.
— Janko Roettgers
Soul Machines is at the cutting edge of AGI research with its unique Digital Brain, based on the latest neuroscience and developmental psychology research.
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