The White Rabbit proposition seeks to address a range of issues with today’s content distribution model for film and television.
It begins with the assertion that consumers turn to piracy not because they do not want to pay; various studies have pointed out that regular pirate streamers hail from the most profitable demographic for content providers.
Cinema piracy viewing is largely a result of a broken content distribution model which often sees any single film’s distribution rights being managed by different partners in different regions who operate in a non-coordinated manner.
A film may be released in the US two weeks before it can legally be viewed in Denmark. The end result is that some Danes will find their own solution.
They go on to observe that services such as Netflix, Amazon Video and iTunes do not have comprehensive coverage of cinematic content, even if they could somehow be combined into a single service.
Consumers are also frustrated by the current user experience – multiple sign-ups to multiple online services which each require their own registration.
At the other end of the supply chain, film producers are finding it increasingly difficult to find reliable revenue streams.
White Rabbit believes it has the ability to tackle these issues in one fell swoop – a browser plugin which acts as a potential single point of reference for all cinematic content which can be consolidated into one virtual library.
Whilst the rights to the films that sit within that virtual library continue to be held by various rights holders, access remains uniform and frictionless for end users.
There is currently no platform that can serve as an open, global digital distribution network for cinematic output. White Rabbit believes it can position itself as the first service to fill this gap.
To do so, however, it will need to nurture partnerships with a range of current online streaming services. To this end, they are planning to attract new partnerships with a promise of up to $100,000 in development capital for each partner platform that successfully signs with them.
A third-party API for partnerships is envisaged to this effect.
Once the partnerships are established, White Rabbit will subsequently propose a multi-faceted model for monetising content that will include:
Direct partnerships: Independent film producers will be able to sell their content directly to White Rabbit on a simple pay-as-you-go basis. These will be managed by smart-contracts on the blockchain. The added advantage for producers here is that they have complete transparency on the who, where and when of how their films have been consumed. End consumers will be able to control – and even monetise – the non-personal data that is made available back to the White Rabbit platform for consumer habits market analysis.
Content Rights Holder (CRH) Partnerships: Similar to the above but CRHs tend to have their own libraries of films to which they own the rights. They too will be incentivised to enter into the White Rabbit ecosystem – either through a direct partnership with White Rabbit themselves or through their own arrangements with a streaming service which in turn will have its own pre-existing contract with White Rabbit.
The White Rabbit white-paper currently envisages a revenue distribution model that will see CRHs pick up 75% of all revenues, 10% to streaming sites with the rest (15%) going to White Rabbit themselves.
The project’s road map does not commit to specific dates but currently outlines four distinct phases.
Phase One: Token Sale – the white-paper also indicates that this incorporates the objective of at least one exchange listing which may be critical for the success of subsequent phases.
Phase Two: Initial integration of White Rabbit into a number of partner, open server sites where users will be able to pay for access to White Rabbit’s own initial library of 400 films. Payment will be made directly by users to the streaming sites.
Phase Three: Development and roll-out of a smart contracts-managed payment distribution mechanism between Content Rights Holders, Partner Streaming Services and White Rabbit – this is essentially an expansion into a more flexible partnership and revenue model than the one outlined in phase two.
Phase Four: Integration of fiat interface for the browser plug-in which will allow users to pay with traditional credit card. The plug-in will manage the transactions in WRT (White Rabbit Token) on the back-end which will be required to gain access to its services.
The team is fully transparent with links to LinkedIn profiles which are embedded in relevant networks.
The profiles all demonstrate established industry experience in a range of domains relevant to the project: film production, commercial distribution, blockchain development and commercial law, amongst others.
With respect to commercial law and the project’s more general legal aspects, this is one of the very few ICOs that we have come across that has redacted a specific document for addressing the various legal implications of the project.
You may want to read this along with the white-paper. The document underlines that their token sale should not be considered a securities investment.
Given the industry that White Rabbit operates in, the absence of a celebrity-type figure from the world of cinema on its advisory board could be seen by some as conspicuous.
A total of 27% of total tokens minted will be reserved internally for the team, partners and the advisory board. For the team, these will be vested and released in six month increments over a period of 18 months. The advisory board will be made to wait six months.
As for the token itself, its function is simply to serve as the medium of payment for user access to streaming services and to reward both content holders and streamers for participating in the network.
The total number of tokens that will be released will be dependent on the capital raised during the sale itself. There is no indication at the time of writing (December 20th, 2017) what the ETH / WRT sale rate will be.
Given the industry profiles of the project’s leads, marketing of the project within the content distribution industry is likely to take care of itself. The marketing question appears like it will boil down to the success of the token sale itself.
As of writing, the project is still in its early stages with even details of the sale conditions yet to emerge. Presence on social media (Telegram, Facebook and Twitter) is therefore in its embryonic stages so it is difficult to judge, at this stage at least, how well the token sale will go.
It should be noted that there is currently no dedicated marketing specialist on the team itself but White Rabbit have communicated to us on their Telegram channel that this is on their to-do list.
Marketing is currently out-sourced to Advisor Kind and other marketing services are currently being onboarded.
Our impression here is that we have genuine disruptive potential brought by blockchain technology for an industry that is in clear need of it. The project team has outlined a clear strategy for building a new business model.
The marketing aspect is the only real doubt that we have at this stage, and it is too early to call how exactly that will pan out.
In general, the proposed harmonisation of streaming services managed by a single virtual library accessed through a browser plugin is a great idea on paper.
However, whilst it is not the specific focus of the business model being proposed, it is our own feeling that one of the more incidental aspects to the project will be where it can take on real significance: its ability to offer to small, independent film-makers a direct-to-consumers global platform that brings immediate monetisation for their work.
If White Rabbit does not push for exclusivity with smaller players – and as a business model that is seeking to challenge the problems brought in the wake of exclusivity, that seems unlikely – and executes well in terms of the token sale and subsequent development of its platform, we believe this aspect of the project will likely be its most successful.
Ratings Score Methodology: a weighted average across three scores: Concept (10% weight), Blockchain Fit (30% weight), Execution (60% weight).
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