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  • Uday Sirohi

Blockchain for Media Streaming


Table of Contents:


What is Media Streaming and Blockchain?

Within the last decade, multimedia, in general, and video streaming, in particular, have revolutionized the way we consume information and keep ourselves engaged. Video-streaming services are increasingly being used, thanks to recent streaming-video-on-demand services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video, which are overtaking traditional TV broadcast services in the United States. Furthermore, live-gaming video-streaming services such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming have also seen tremendous growth. Twitch alone ranks as the fourth-highest peak Internet traffic generator in the United States, with nearly one million concurrent users.

Now talking about blockchain technology, it is a digital list of records, that is, blocks linked together using cryptographic algorithms. It gained a lot of attention with the introduction and high popularity of Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency based on blockchain. Its property of resistance to modification makes it a prospective and highly disruptive technology across a wide range of industries. Some of the significant advantages offered by blockchain include faster and more secure transactions, transparency, cost-effectiveness (due to the absence of middlemen), traceability, automated actions using smart contracts, and cryptographically sealed protected data, providing security and privacy.

Use of Blockchain in Media Streaming

Blockchain technology has the potential to assist the media streaming industry significantly. The key characteristics of blockchain's shared ledger system can assist media streaming by providing transparency, trust, efficiency, speed, security, and control for all points in a transaction process across the media supply chain.

This is particularly important in the delivery, consumption, and payment of media content and in advertising. Furthermore, blockchain can aid in the prevention of ad fraud (such as clicks performed by bots rather than humans) and copyright infringement. Media streaming firms that start developing a blockchain solution today have a chance to go ahead of the competition. Blockchain technology offers a wide range of opportunities, some of which are discussed below:

  • Empowering Creators and Artists Blockchain - Content-ownership rights are retained, and providers are free to determine the terms of use, audience, pricing, licensing, and so on. Micropayments and instant payments are based on automated smart contracts to decrease delays. Enormous third-party fees (approximately 50% for Twitch and 25% for Uber) are bypassed. The transparent system makes it impossible to lie and cheat about actual revenue, resulting in a fair and efficient process.

  • Blockchain-based CDNs - These utilize unused storage space across multiple locations by employing decentralized networks. The last-mile problem of content delivery is alleviated.

  • Privacy - Violations/illegal use of personal data by big corporations (such as Facebook) are prevented. While maintaining anonymity, QoE prediction models and customized solutions, such as recommendations, can be supplied. Advertisements can be targeted while ensuring that the privacy of users is not jeopardized.

  • Piracy - This is one of the biggest challenges in the field of media streaming. Illegal copying can be tracked since the content will include ownership data that can be designed to be tamper-proof.

  • Green Energy - Energy consumption is reduced by employing P2P decentralized networks, resulting in tremendous power savings, given that video distribution uses 80% of the Internet’s consumer bandwidth. Videos are streamed at a considerably lower energy level (for example, Flixx). Platforms can run on data centres that are underutilized or idle (in particular, VideoCoin)

Blockchain Media Companies

  • Mediachain - Using blockchain, Mediachain connects music to its creator and provides background information on the music. To provide a more transparent listening experience, the independent, decentralized music library automatically provides listeners with information about the originator, producer, and lyrics. Spotify bought Mediachain in 2017 with the intention of developing technology that more accurately identifies music to the rights holders and artists whose work is streamed on the platform.

  • Rebel AI - Rebel AI's blockchain generates publisher identity and tracks brand media and advertising expenditures. In the future, it will also offer wallets for safe media trading. To ensure a transparent and legitimate supply chain in media contract trade, Rebel AI teamed with contract marketplace NYIAX.

  • Fluz Fluz - On its e-commerce platform, Fluz Fluz combines blockchain and social media. While buying online, in-store, or with Fluzpay, a crypto-based pre-paid store balance card, Fluz Fluz offers cash-back options. For doing a transaction at some of the world's largest firms, such as Starbucks, Nike, Disney, and Uber, the company gives cash-back rewards. Fluz Fluz members can invite friends, exchange material, and expand their networks in order to maximize cash-back returns. Users can earn more than 8% cashback on personal and network purchases by expanding their social media networks.

  • Steemit - Steemit is a decentralized social networking platform that rewards users for creating content and connecting with one another. The site employs STEEM tokens to encourage community socialization. The company's blockchain tracks every time a user interacts with the community or publishes content on the immutable record. Those with more STEEM tokens have more "Steem Power," which allows them to make decisions about the community and reward distributions. Since June 2018, the Steemit blockchain has tracked and paid out over $60 million to community members who have generated content and engaged with others. Furthermore, the social networking site claims to have a member base of over one million people.

  • Civil - Civil is a journalistic community that uses blockchain technology to generate transparency and trust. Independent journalists construct newsrooms on Civil's network where they may add and share their content. The company's blockchain technology assures that every journalist owns his or her work completely, and its entire openness allows consumers to universally endorse the content's accuracy, essentially eliminating "fake news." Civil is home to a number of well-known independent and local news outlets, including Block Club Chicago, the Colorado Sun, and FAQ NYC, which all publish content on the blockchain-backed platform.

  • Dot Blockchain Media - Dot Blockchain Media is a rights management solution for music. The blockchain maintained by the company maintains an immutable database of artist, publisher, and label rights, allowing royalty payments to be distributed equitably in real-time. Artists can use the company's blockchain technology to synchronize their songwriting and performing rights with their music on streaming sites. Dot Blockchain Media can watermark a song and give listeners access to a wealth of background information while also recording real-time streaming payments to the artist. Dot Blockchain Media has partnered with Cardstack, a platform that collects data from a variety of sources and consolidates it into one place. Both plan to use blockchain to appropriately pay musicians based on music streaming from a variety of sources.

  • Binded - Binded is a copyrighting technology for photographers based on blockchain technology. Photographers upload their work, which is then held in a copyright vault protected by a blockchain-based unique fingerprint. Artists can share their work and track comparable photos to avoid any copyright infringements once images have been uploaded and secured. Over 350,000 photos have been recorded and safeguarded by the Binded blockchain. Furthermore, the company has made it simpler to register for Instagram photo copyright. The photo is automatically registered when a user adds the hashtag Binded to a social media post.

Patent Data Analysis of "Blockchain Technology in Media Streaming"

The following charts provide data about the patent families related to the use of blockchain technology in media streaming.

This first graph shows the Top 14 countries with the count of patent families filed under their jurisdiction. We can see that China is leading this graph and has 3526 patent families, followed by the US and Europe with a count of 789 and 513 respectively. This can be explained by the fact that China is leading the research on Blockchain, and the Chinese central government has increasingly seen this as an opportunity, as has been the case with most emerging technologies. Since the release of the 13th five-year plan in 2016 and the first White Paper on Blockchain Technology and Application Development by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in the same year, the CPC has increasingly considered Blockchain as an economic, political, and geopolitical asset for the country if 'guided' well.

This next graph shows the count of patent families filed in the last ten years. We can see that the growth has been exponential after the year 2015 owing to how the research in the field of blockchain in media streaming has significantly increased. In general, the interest in Blockchain technology has been increasing since the idea was coined in 2008. The reason for the interest in Blockchain is its central attributes that provide security, anonymity, and data integrity without any third-party organization in control of the transactions, and therefore it creates interesting research areas, especially from the perspective of technical challenges and limitations. The graph also shows the forecast of how the number of patent families being filed will only increase with time.

Challenges and Issues

  • Design of a scalable video-streaming platform based on blockchain: In general, video streaming involves a large number of sessions, resulting in many transactions throughout a single stream. This may result in an unusually large number of transactions, resulting in long delays and/or high computational complexity. As a result, a development platform is critical for implementing innovative strategies in a custom blockchain platform/model for video streaming in order to overcome the current challenges of longer transaction times and limited computing power. For instance, current efforts in this direction, from Play2Live, which used the Graphene platform (third-generation software with cryptographic abilities capable of performing 50,000 transactions per second), can be further explored.

  • Payments and revenue-sharing model: An exciting and much-needed research challenge is the design of revenue models that are fair and maximize the benefits for all involved stakeholders, in particular, content producers, publishers, aggregators, technology providers, advertisers, and legal-service providers. Due to the presence of such intermediaries, artist contracts and payments are currently severely limited. Artists and creators can get their proper shares and keep control of their content by using blockchain and smart contracts to construct an automated payment system. Along with the revenue model, the design of proper SLAs and ELAs is required to assign tasks and responsibilities to each stakeholder.

  • Protection of content owners’ rights: A thorough investigation is required to develop specific provisions and features to help track ownership and prevent illegal copying and distribution of content. Smart contracts with licensing and ownership-related elements will need to be developed for each application. These could help address DRM issues, which remain an enormous challenge for the media industry.

  • Lack of standards and regulation: Currently, one of the most significant disadvantages of blockchain technology is uncertainty about the legal status of its applications, such as cryptocurrency, betting, and gambling. We need an international blockchain-based video-streaming standardization group comprised of both technical and legal experts from industry, academia, and regulators for the technology to evolve and be recognized by various public and private institutions. There is a need to develop video-streaming-related smart contract standards similar to the Ethereum Request for Comments-20 Ethereum Smart Contract. Other standards, such as the Interledger Protocol, are also needed to preserve interoperability between legacy and newly built blockchain-based video-streaming networks.

  • Integration and interoperability: Integration and interoperability: To make sure of interoperability with legacy systems, more research toward the development of standard protocols and terminology is required. New network technologies are also being launched, such as fog computing, MEC, software-defined networking, and network functions virtualization. As a result, the designed solution should be compatible with emerging technologies and protocols. It is necessary to identify various influencing factors, such as QoE monitoring and control models, among others, that are designed for such applications. Furthermore, identifying such factors is required for successfully enforcing SLAs and ELAs between various stakeholders.


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