With integrated support for free and subscription video streaming services considered baseline table stakes for all smart TV platforms, Samsung now hopes to differentiate a bit by putting some weight behind another hype-cycle: non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
NFTs serve as a digital identifier tied to a blockchain used to certify authenticity and ownership of specific digital assets. Among early examples, OpenSea is billed as a marketplace that enables users to discover, collect and sell NFTs and collections of NFTs, such as something called the Mutant Ape Yacht Club.
Samsung's 2022 Neo QLED sets will be among the products that will support the integrated NFT marketplace. (Source: Samsung)
Tied into a new Smart Hub for apps and content curation, Samsung used this week's CES in Las Vegas to introduce an integrated "NFT Platform" for its new lineup of smart TVs, including Samsung's MicroLED, Neo QLED and The Frame models. Samsung said its coming NFT app will provide an "integrated platform for discovering, purchasing and trading digital artwork" in supported TV models. The platform itself reportedly will be capable of pulling NFTs from a range of marketplaces.
"With demand for NFTs on the rise, the need for a solution to today's fragmented viewing and purchasing landscape has never been greater," Samsung said in a statement. "In 2022, Samsung is introducing the world's first TV screen-based NFT explorer and marketplace aggregator, a groundbreaking platform that lets you browse, purchase, and display your favorite art – all in one place."
NFTs have already begun to pop up in the world of TV content. Fox Corp., for example, made a strategic investment in Eluvio, a startup that uses blockchain technology to manage and distribute digital content. Tied into that investment, which completed Eluvio's $100 million A round, the vendor is also providing the underlying tech platform for Blockchain Creative Labs, a new NFT business/creative unit of Fox Entertainment and Bento Box Entertainment.
Samsung is the first smart TV maker/operating system company to announce plans to integrate NFT marketplaces. By comparison, Roku's opening CES announcement today was a claim as the top smart TV OS sold in the US (per recent NPD data), and a new partnership with Sharp for Sharp-made Roku TV models for the US, including a series of HD and 4K-capable units that will launch later in 2022.
The NFT component was one of a handful of iterative additions coming to Samsung's Smart Hub. Others include a new Gaming Hub (thanks in part to partnerships with the likes of Google Stadia and Utomik), an app that fine tunes the TV's settings for optimal picture quality, and a seemingly pandemic-driven "Watch Together" app that enables viewers from multiple locations to sync up their viewing of a movie or TV show.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading