HITS Spring: Genpact Explores the Possibilities for M&E Companies in the Metaverse

As technology brands start to increasingly create their own metaverses, one thing has become clear: media, publishing and entertainment companies will have a unique role to play in the evolution of these seamless, immersive online spaces, according to Brajesh Jha, SVP and global head of media, publishing and entertainment at professional services company Genpact.

During the Metaverse breakout session “Building a Metaverse Strategy for Media and Entertainment Brands” at the Hollywood Innovation and Transformation Summit (HITS) on May 19, Jha provided attendees with deep insights on the possibilities of the metaverse and the building blocks enterprises need to take advantage of them, as well as how some early movers in the sector are leading the way.

The metaverse presents significant opportunities for media and entertainment companies.

But how can M&E companies prepare themselves to tap into these new growth opportunities in the metaverse?

 Calling himself a “digital evangelist,” Jha noted that he has worked in the tech sector for nearly three decades, starting his career before the World Wide Web became a common term. “I saw the first wave of Web1, and I saw what mobility did with Web2” and the popularity of apps, he said.

Now, he said: “I can literally see us knocking on the doors of Web3. And I feel this particular time is way  much more fascinating than anything we have seen before. And it is not going to happen tomorrow. It is happening right now. So the key question we are going to be talking about is what does it mean for the media and entertainment companies.”

There are “three essential components of the metaverse if you think from the standpoint of media and entertainment companies,” he went on to say.

First, of course, is the content. What the online games Fortnite and Roblox have done is create a “unique combination of game, entertainment and social media all combined into one,” he told attendees, adding, “there is a world [of people] out there that has no idea how fascinating that whole experience is.”

Making note of two examples of the way in which the power of content resonates with people, he pointed to Disney’s Marvel and Star Wars properties, as well as non-fungible tokens generated from the National Basketball Association (NBA).

“There is tremendous power that content has and the power … that sits with those specific franchises,” he said, adding: “That is what the main companies have and they have the ability to create for the future metaverse.”

Commerce is the second essential part of the metaverse, he said, noting: “The “monetization strategy that traditionally media and entertainment companies thought about was you have your content to get to the audience through the theaters, or now maybe through” one of the over-the-top (OTT) platforms or you might create merchandise, or you might have theme parks,” he explained.

Looking to the possible purchasing activities that consumers can do in the metaverse, he asked attendees to imagine somebody waking up in the morning, deciding to buy clothes for his or her online avatar, going to a virtual shopping mall to pick clothes, and then those clothes eventually end up at that person’s “doorstep in the real world.”

And then the third essential component of the metaverse is the community aspect of it, he said. “One of the things that happened during the pandemic” with gamers is they reached out to others with random acts of kindness because they “were all together in their respective virtual world playing a game together,” he noted. This relationship building is “being triggered by the metaverse,” he said. This is something that companies creating the entire experience will have to think about, he added.

Meanwhile, a few months ago, there was the first case of groping in the metaverse that The New York Times reported on, he noted, pointing out that the “concept of trust and safety, creating a safe environment [and] protecting people’s privacy … are all aspects of the community building” in the metaverse.

Media companies creating experiences for the metaverse have to figure out all the new sources of monetization and also understand that it’s no longer going to be somebody watching a movie once and then saying good things about it, he said. “This is a much more immersive experience that we are talking about where people are also part of the community and they are actively engaged in creating user-generated content. So these are all the aspects that are fundamental to what the media companies have to think about.”

Meanwhile, “there are five steps” to realize the journey to the metaverse, he told attendees. The journey starts with having a strategy in place that includes knowing what the revenue streams being targeted are. For example, will the content be made available on a subscription basis or through video on demand, he noted.

Next comes the define phase that includes defining the IDs and digital payment systems that will be used, he noted.

After that comes the create phase that he said will require an “army of creatives.” Those creatives, including software developers, “are the ones that are actually going to translate that reality of what you have in your strategy and your defined steps,” he said.

Next is the connect phase, which he said is “super important” and involves establishing interconnections between metaverse business models, the metaverse and physical business models.

Last is the commercialization phase in which companies can capitalize from the integration between the real and virtual worlds, he added.

The Hollywood Innovation and Transformation Summit event was produced by MESA in association with the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), Media & Entertainment Data Center Alliance (MEDCA), presented by ICVR and sponsored by Genpact, MicroStrategy, Whip Media, Convergent Risks, Perforce, Richey May Technology Solutions, Signiant, Softtek, Bluescape, Databricks, KeyCode Media, Metal Toad, Shift, Zendesk, EIDR, Fortinet, Arch Platform Technologies and Amazon Studios.