by zokama

Introducing Decentralized Video Platforms

Part 1 of 4

We all wonder what will drive main stream adoption of the blockchain technology. The first project to cross that chasm could emerge from many different fields or industries: currency, fintech, governance, social media, advertising, gaming, etc... Another candidate is video distribution: a well established market, involving a multitude of content providers, hundreds of millions of daily users, with huge requirements in infrastructure, and a well understood business models. Looking at the existing giants like Youtube, Netflix, broadcast TV, or CDNs (Content Delivery Networks), blockchain enthusiasts have identified many flaws that they believe could be fixed with decentralization and blockchain. They are proposing alternative platforms to empower the masses while improving the video distribution service as a whole.

On top of its potential for main stream adoption, decentralized video distribution offers a great case study for blockchain in general, as it touches on several of the key aspects of the technology as it exists today: distributed processing power, scaling, micro-transactions, security, privacy, performance, ease of use, governance, content curation, right managements and advertisement.

Projects overview

It feels like not a month goes by without a new, decentralized, Youtube or Netflix replacement being announced. Lets look into some of them: Flixxo, IPBC, LBRY, Livepeer, Theta, Videocoin, Viewly and Viuly. All want to bring a decentralized video network to the masses.

The goal of this series is not to establish a ranking and qualify the value of each project. First, because most of those projects are at a very early stage. They have only recently opened a website and made their whitepaper public. Some others, a bit further along, have an online prototype, and while it shows some evidence of concrete work, very few have more to show than what is effectively an online video player with very limited content options.

Furthermore, several projects explain, in their whitepaper, that they will go through multiple steps before reaching their envisioned product. They plan to use an existing blockchain or smart contract platform for an initial version. However, in order to deal with the technical requirements specific to decentralized video distribution, the final solution would either have to implement its own blockchain or rely on major improvements of the existing ones.

The time to benchmark all of these platforms will come eventually, but for now, lets try to understand the similarities and the differences between them:

Notes

  1. In this series, we assume that all the ideas described in the whitepapers referenced represent the reality of what each project will actually be. Big assumption indeed!
  2. I am not affiliated with any of the projects mentioned here, nor have I had any interaction with them beyond fact-checking for this article.
  3. The fact that a project is mentioned here does not represent an endorsement of any kind. Any link provided is for fluidity, to facilitate further research and is accurate to the best of my knowledge. Still, be very cautious before investing or providing any personal information to ICOs, crypto projects and on the Internet in general.