Content first: CEO Jack Cheng discusses new platform GazeTV
GazeTV is here to change the social media game. It’s a blockchain-based social entertainment platform that’s putting content creators first, and is aiming to solve the flaws of other platforms regarding monetization. GazeTV is also looking to unify users from around the world since it can be accessed from China (where YouTube, Clubhouse, Twitter, and other social media are banned).
Beyond these benefits, GazeTV will seek to leverage incentives and awards for its top creators, ensuring that creators are not given short shrift or undercompensated for the video work they put together. Film Daily was fortunate enough to talk with Jack Cheng, the CEO of GazeTV, about the platform’s model and his exciting plans for the future. Here’s what Cheng had to say:
When did the idea for GazeTV first come about?
We believe that content creation is invaluable, but in the legacy world, content creators are being exploited. Content creation means nothing on legacy video platforms, even though those platforms wouldn’t exist without the creators. They contribute to those platforms everyday and it turns out, most creators can’t make a living from this.
Not only is there a broken censorship control mechanism, but also the unfair and hidden platform algorithm makes it difficult for creators to reach new audiences. The business model of legacy platforms relies on advertising revenue, which you are forced to watch via multiple methods, such as in-stream and pop-up advertisements. Not only do these ads impact audience experience, there’s also privacy concerns.
Our question at GazeTV was, “Why can’t we build a better platform to have a win-win ecosystem for creators, audiences and the platform? Why can’t we eliminate all the blackbox rules behind the scenes? Why can’t other alternatives prevail over those big platforms?” This was the beginning of GazeTV—using blockchain technology and tokenomics to build a social entertaining platform that puts creators and audience in the center.
How many changes did GazeTV go through before it was ready for launch?
The GazeTV journey started in June 2020. We carefully crafted a roadmap and separated the platform into 3 phases. Phase 1, where we are currently, is to focus on the development of the platform’s features, building bridges and connecting the dots on the foundational layer of the GAZE tokenized ecosystem.
There are multiple revisions on development, product features and the brand over the past few months. Now in March 2021, we are ready to launch.
What would you say distinguishes GazeTV from other entertainment platforms?
The key differentiators would be that GazeTV is a more transparent approach to video analytics for content creators, allowing them to tailor their content more effectively. We really built the platform with creators in mind, and we’ve implemented feedback we’ve received from creators that use existing platforms.
The second piece would be that blockchain underpins the entire platform, which creates a transparent layer for engagement. If you look at YouTube, the pricing of CPM (per sector) is ultimately determined by YouTube based on what they say creators can earn from the advertisers.
With Gaze, the engagement rates for Views/likes/shares/comments are very clear, it’s easy for people to understand how they are being incentivised. Those would be the two main differences.
GazeTV has been described as a blockchain-based platform. Can you explain what blockchain means and how it improves the social media experience?
This relates to the answer above. Initially, the blockchain provides a clear understanding of incentives through the GAZE token. It is simple to understand how these rewards work, and it’s easy for creators to be rewarded fairly.
We worked very hard on this. GazeTV, the company, is not in the middle of the rewards, we have disaggregated ourselves from this, which allows us to focus on delivering a great service.
GazeTV is able to synchronize content from platforms like YouTube & Facebook. Did this feature require you to collaborate with these other platforms?
Actually, from a technical perspective, it’s simple to do. As long as the account holder on a platform owns the rights to their videos, they can automatically sync their content to GAZE. Initially, we believe that we will be a new channel for creators, allowing them to build audiences in China and other markets that are denied to them on YouTube.
For Asian based creators, it will be a platform easily accessible to an international audience. We wanted this process to be as frictionless as possible, so the technical part of syncing was a no-brainer. In a perfect world, you should be able to move from platform to platform with your content forever, but you can’t. We aim to try to embody that functionality.
At the launch, we know we won’t replace YouTube. What we are aiming to do is provide a new channel for creators, with fair rewards and a transparent interface. Our focus is on building a platform of jointly co-operative online communities, so we’ve focused on a few areas including musicians and e-sports.
GazeTV will be one of the few platforms made available to Western and Chinese audiences. Do you think this will allow for greater crossover between audiences?
This is a core belief for us. We feel that both audiences can learn a lot from each other. You can see this on sites dedicated to K-Pop and other sectors where audiences intermingle. By having the platform open on both sides of the Pacific, it will provide diversity of thought and opinion. It will be beneficial to creators for obvious reasons, they get access to new markets.
As pop culture grows in diversity, do you feel GazeTV will be a step towards a more universal social media experience?
Ideally, there shouldn’t be any limitation on types of content. Freedom of creation is the essence of being human. GazeTV embraces and upholds this ideal for all users on the platform. We think the current system is broken.
Now, people are trying to catch the wave of whatever the popular influencers are doing. We’d rather provide a platform for creators to use their own voice to tell their story.
Where did the name “GazeTV” originate?
We thought about this, probably less so than we did other more technical parts of the platform. Youtube’s slogan is “broadcast yourself,” but what is being broadcasted? We thought about how we act when we are on those platforms. Going down rabbit holes, watching the next video in the playlist, and the next.
Broadcasting yourself makes the audience very passive. We thought that passivity is part of the problem. Gazing at something indicates looking with intensity, focus. Stargazing, for example—it’s something done with joy and intent. It is not the same as passively watching.
High-profile users will be rewarded with Gaze tokens. What do these tokens mean and how do they benefit the users?
To make it simple for understanding, every second of content being uploaded on GazeTV will earn GAZE. Audience views, likes, comments and shares the content will earn GAZE too.
Our Slogan is “Every Second Counts” which means more to us than just a slogan. You can’t save time, you can only spend it. With GAZE, if youwatch, you get rewarded. It’s not only high profile users, it’s anyone who engages with content they like in a meaningful way, including likes, comments, and shares.
We are also working on a mechanism for Phase 2 that will limit and remove spam comments and ways to game the system, allowing us to curate content and comments.
The press release for GazeTV states that other platforms have vague and poorly defined monetary policies. How does GazeTV improve upon these policies?
At GazeTV, we eliminate hidden algorithms and make content monetization transparent, by looking at the duration content and the relevant engagement rate of each video. That’s simple enough for both creators and the audience. Plus, everyone is now under the same rules.
For example, with standard digital/display ads, the standard unit of measure is CPM (cost per mille – or every thousand views) while a creators portion of the CPM is RPM (retention per mille) but, the overlooked portion of this is that Youtube simply sets these amounts based on an opaque algorithm that says gaming is hotter than say, knitting.
Is it? Probably, but what percentage hotter than knitting is it? That’s something Youtube and other platforms choose to not be too clear on. On the contrary, on other platforms, creators can’t tell why their content didn’t appear in search results or reach a larger audience. There’s a siloed approach to opacity.
It takes 1,400 views on YouTube just to make 1 USD. How does the pay scale for GazeTV differ?
Our metrics are very different. For example, there is nothing for uploading videos on YouTube. On GazeTV, just uploading a 8-minute video will earn more than 1 USD value of GAZE, subject to the conversion rate. Not to mention there is an engagement reward pool for content creators and audience to earn more too. That’s also the meaning for our slogan “Every Second Counts”.
Other platforms have run into controversy when it comes to taking content down and censoring users. What is GazeTV’s policy on content regulations?
Although we are heading toward a decentralized world, there has to be something to connect with the legacy world. At GazeTV, we accept content initially with a simple AI check for any obvious violations.
After that process, we look at two mechanisms, a reporting tool similar to other platforms, and also a community based content review board, that will ultimately be part of the Phase 2 launch. We envisage this group being built on diverse backgrounds and earning GAZE tokens for review.
GazeTV has more than 180,000 minutes of content ready for its launch. What has the response been from early users who have used the platform to make content?
These are our old numbers! We are past that now. Many of the content creators are looking for alternatives, and audiences are also now waking up to the idea that if you aren’t paying for a service, then you probably are the service. Audiences are also getting frustrated with processes like “shadow bans” on Twitter, or hiding content on Youtube.
The roll-out for GazeTV is segmented into several phases. What are these phases?
Phase 1 is the beginning of “Gaze Age.” This is where we are now. Content creators and an audience are key. Once we launch the platform, we will keep working on improvements and fixes, at the same time moving forward. According to what we planned for phase 2 “Gazer-lization.” We aim to make GazeTV become a 360 degree socialization app for every day use. Phase 3 is the “GazeSpace,” we will keep some secrets here.
So many platforms suffer from in-stream advertisements. Does GazeTV provide an alternative to these ad tactics?
We aren’t just building a platform. We are doing this because we’ve been audiences on other platforms before. We know what it is to be a commodity. GazeTV will not contain any forced in-stream ads, now and in the future. We opt to let audience and content creators choose according to their preference.
We have the technical capacity to host ads, but it would be up to a content creator to agree to that for their content, and we’d be transparent about that.
What is the single greatest benefit that GazeTV offers to users?
Thanks to the GAZE tokenized ecosystem, as a creator, you can really make a meaningful living as a content creator. As a member of the audience, you can earn and support creators in a fair, transparent way. It becomes a virtuous circle. If you make good content that audiences like, viewers will become a part of a community.
I think it was Chris Anderson, former editor at Wired, that first talked about building vibrant online communities with your audience using a low payment model. Now you have journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi all on that model. You have Patron, which is getting massive, the market is at an inflection point. But that hasn’t happened for video.
What is an aspect of the platform that you still want to improve on?
Nothing is ever perfect. GazeTV will keep on evolving and improving user experience and reward mechanisms that fit for our Gazer community.
One of GazeTV’s credos is “every second counts.” How does this apply to users?
I mentioned it above, and I’ll say it again. Ultimately, you can’t save time, you can only spend it. It takes time to create content, and we treasure that. It also takes time to engage with content, because time is priceless. We treasure this too, because we believe every second counts and every second matters. That’s why we are empowering Gazers instead of taking things away from them.
Where do you see GazeTV in the next five years?
We focus on solving and improving minor things, to quote a motto – “Think Small.” That’s how we will be moving towards our grand vision. Simply, in the next five years, we hope to see “Gazer” as an adjective, like “Googling.” We’d like to replace Youtuber in the vernacular too.
What advice do you have for aspiring content creators?
Creation is beautiful. We are trying not to get caught up in making some derivative stuff that looks like everyone else’s just because you think it might be popular. Be yourself, be alive, be crazy. And come join us. See you on GazeTV.