History

CNN jumps into the NFT game, selling clips of historic news moments

“Vault by CNN” will offer up digital “ownership” of news coverage from throughout the news network’s 41-year history.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (L) speaks, alongside journalist Anderson Cooper, during a CNN drive-in Town Hall meeting in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

CNN is the latest entity to embrace the NFT craze, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The cable news channel plans on selling digital collectibles of memorable moments from throughout its 41-year history.

Going live in late June, the “Vault by CNN” platform will feature a batch of news clips that anyone can purchase and display on their “vault” user page. CNN hasn’t specified what the first moments it sells will be, but it could be anything from coverage of presidential elections to CNN exclusive programs. Hopefully there will be at least one involving our favorite silver fox, Anderson Cooper.

Collect ’em all — Of course, CNN isn’t selling the copyrights to these moments. All you’re really buying is essentially a one-of-one signed copy. Though to sweeten the deal, CNN says that for some limited-edition sets it will offer a video display case to show off the NFTs. That could help sell the concept to people who might have a hard time with the idea of buying “ownership” of a digital asset that is infinitely replicable.

NFT stands for non-fungible token, and in laypersons terms is a digital certificate of authenticity. They imbue value onto a digital piece of art by the fact that they are a unique cryptographic key that can’t be replicated, and their ownership is tracked on a ledger as it trades hands from one person to another. It’s a way of creating scarcity in a digital world that lacks any such thing.

In recent months, major figures from Elon Musk to Jack Dorsey to Azealia Banks have all sold NFTs. Yesterday, the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, said he would auction off an NFT version of the source code behind the world’s first web browser. A lot of NFT artwork has felt pretty lazy, not much more than a way for celebrities to cash in on their fame, but maybe if you’ve become wealthy off the internet, it might be cool to buy the only signed edition of the code powering it.

Fad or future? — As for CNN, the network appears to be betting that there will be demand for digital collectibles of live broadcast moments, like the fall of the Berlin Wall. “Until now, there has been no way to ‘collect’ these moments,” CNN said in an FAQ. “Users can often find old footage online, or packaged up in documentaries, but they cannot ‘own’ them or display them in the way they can with a print newspaper or magazine.”

However, there is skepticism that people will continue spending on NFTs as the world reopens and people are more able to spend their money outside the home. At least CNN will make it easier for folks: People will be able to purchase their CNN moments with a credit card. Though it should be mentioned that they’ll still need to create a digital wallet with Blocto, a blockchain company.

Elsewhere in TV land, Fox recently announced “the first-ever animated series curated entirely on the Blockchain,” Dan Harmon’s upcoming animated show Krapopolis. It’s been a few weeks since the news broke, and we’re still not quite sure what that means — but hopefully the show will be funny no matter what.