Interview with Ian Mckee, Founder and CEO of Vuulr

Asia Blockchain Review
June 2, 2019

Asia Blockchain Review recently spoke to Vuulr Founder and CEO Ian Mckee about his proposition to decrease the time it takes to acquire entertainment content from 6 months to just under a week using Vuulr’s blockchain-powered solution that will change the way titles are discovered and bought in the global entertainment industry.

Asia Blockchain Review: Can you tell us about Vuulr and its vision for the content distribution industry?

Ian Mckee: Disney, Fox, Amazon, HBO, Facebook, Apple, your local broadcaster, and others are all locked in a fierce battle for your attention and the revenue it generates. The one thing they all agree on is that Content is King. Globally, this industry spends US$240 billion per annum on buying content, growing at 10% per year, yet, they still do business the old-fashioned way.

Acquiring content takes 4-5 months and involves huge amounts of manual effort. Trade events, expensive middlemen (taking 35% commission), exclusive contracts, and complex content rights managed in spreadsheets are the norm. As a result, 35-40% of the value is lost to the friction of the transaction. The Vuulr Marketplace will bring content owners, buyers, and sponsors (brands) together digitally. It will enable content rights to be transacted globally, accelerating a process that currently takes months to complete offline into one that can be completed online in a matter of days.

Vuulr’s vision is to create a new global broadcast content economy, bringing content buyers, sellers, creators, and brands together in a vibrant, integrated ecosystem; democratizing access; and enabling new, innovative business models for the future.


ABR: Why did you decide to run Vuulr on a blockchain platform?

IM: Using blockchain, Vuulr’s supply chain for the entertainment industry will revolutionize Title Discovery, Acquisition, Sponsorship, Delivery, and Payment, enabling the industry to transact faster with reduced friction and eliminate wasteful manual rework.


ABR: What are some of the challenges and opportunities of using blockchain for Vuulr?

IM: Like all companies developing a commercial solution on top of a blockchain platform, we face the key issues of maturity of the core platform technology plus all its peripheral toolsets. The availability of people with the right skillsets and the newness of the technology impacts the readiness of businesses in the entertainment industry to use solutions deployed on blockchain.

All of these will change and improve over time, and as more awareness and understanding becomes common in the industry, I see the parallel with when computing “in the cloud” was first launched. It too had to mature, and the industry took time to accept its advantages.


ABR: What does it mean for Vuulr to shorten the entire content procurement process “From Discovery to Deal”?

IM: As an exhibitor’s critical success factor is their ability to acquire and retain their target audience at the lowest cost, its long-term success depends on being able to consistently acquire better (i.e. more appealing to their audience) content at a lower (risk-adjusted) cost than their competitors. Thus, content acquisition is the pivotal process in the company’s value chain and will become more and more data-driven as data becomes available.

Today, in the absence of any online tools, the process of looking for a new piece of content can take 3 to 6 months on average. Vuulr’s goal is to digitally enable the industry such that this process can be achieved in 3 to 6 days.


ABR: Who are some of your clients and what has been their feedback for the solutions that you offer?

IM: As a B2B marketplace, we connect businesses that make great content with buyers at broadcasters and OTTs, globally. Despite only launching earlier this year, we are happy to say that we already have content listed by very established names, such as Mediacorp, Astro, Turner Broadcasting, Balaji, ABS-CBN, Hi-5 and many other well-known content creators. Moreover, we have buyers from iFlix, Amazon, Mediacorp, Astro, Discovery, MNC, and many other Free-To-Air broadcasters, Pay TV, and OTT platforms are registered and approved users on the marketplace.


ABR: What are some major developments from Vuulr that we can look forward to in 2019?

IM: Areas that we are scoping and investigating user demand for include Digital Asset Management of the Raw Digital Asset (e.g. a film or TV show), Transcoding & Delivery (to the buying organization), Auction Technology, and Management of Payment & Provision of Escrow.


ABR: Where do you see Vuulr in the next five years? What goal(s) have you set out to achieve?

IM: Our vision is to be the largest B2B marketplace in the film and TV Industry, first in Asia, then the world; accelerate the key business transactions, from taking months to days; reduce the cost of doing core business transactions by 75%; and digitally enable the industry to be more data-driven, agile, and attuned to the needs of the audience.


ABR: What are some other areas in the global entertainment industry that can be optimized with blockchain solutions?

IM: We have a long-term vision for which we have already built a working Proof of Concept of tokenizing the supply chain for the industry. The Content Industry Supply Chain Protocol (CISP) is implemented by taking already accepted data standards for the industry (developed by Hollywood-funded trade associations) and building them on top of Ethereum.

This means that all licensing transactions conducted globally will be possible via smart contracts which can then intelligently check for commercial compliance and manage the allocation of fees, royalties, and payments, quickly, efficiently, and transparently.

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