There’s a New Use Case for NFTs: Monetising the Publishing Business

South China Morning Post is the latest in a string of publications to monetise their content with NFTs.
Image source: Omar Marques/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock

Quick take:

  • South China Morning Post dropped its NFT collection today.
  • Time Magazine made at least $10 million in nine months from Web3 ventures.
  • Three Ukrainian media outlets have set up an NFT paywall.

As the NFT space evolves, more use cases of its technology are being uncovered. Besides being another income stream for creators, NFTs have also been used to fund film and TV projects and now, monetising the content of news outlets.

Hong Kong-based media outlet South China Morning Post (SCMP) dropped its NFT collection today and sold almost $127,000 worth of NFTs within the first two hours of launching. 

More than 1000 “boxes” of NFTs depicting some of its 1997 print front pages were sold within the first hour of the auction which opened at 1pm GMT on Monday, with the remaining 200 boxes selling out after 3pm GMT.

Each “box” – which cost $97 had to be purchased with FUSD, a cryptocurrency on the Flow blockchain pegged to USD – contained an NFT that was given a rarity rating based on the historical significance of the event it depicted. 

Those who bought the NFTs can only “open” their boxes at 1pm GMT on Tuesday to see which front pages they have.

SCMP, which is owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, launched a new NFT technical framework named Artifact in July. According to SCMP, the framework will “give anyone a chance to own and trade historical moments reported by generations of journalists with the newspaper”.

The publication’s latest NFT drop makes SCMP the latest in a string of media outlets to monetise their content with NFTs. The second part of the 1997 NFT series will go on sale in April.

In March 2021, Quartz sold its first-ever NFT news article for 1 ETH ($1800 at the time). In the same month, the New York Times sold an NFT of a column for $560,000, with proceeds going to the Neediest Cases Fund.

In November, CNN announced its CNN Vault project that will be releasing NFT Moments of stories and events as well as historic news coverage from the last 40 years.

In January, the Hindustan Times launched its first NFT collection to mark India’s Republic Day while Associated Press (AP) announced its NFT marketplace to release AP photography. 

However, AP faced backlash in February for promoting the sale of a video NFT depicting migrants drifting on a boat in the Mediterranean sea. The auction of the NFT was cancelled.

Time Magazine has also entered the NFT space with NFTs of its past covers as well as an NFT store, TIMEPieces, selling Time-branded art from over 40 global artists. According to Press Gazette, Time made at least $10 million in nine months from Web3 ventures.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, three Ukrainian news outlets, Ukrainska Pravda, Novoye Vremya and NGO broadcaster Hromadske, have partnered with NFT platform Vault to sell 10,000 NFT “keys” that unlock access to the outlets’ content. Vault said that proceeds from the sale will directly support the media organisation.

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