TIME is exploring potential NFT projects around subscriptions and memberships, the magazine’s president tells Decrypt.
The hint was dropped partway through a conversation on the Decrypt Daily podcast with TIME president Keith Grossman, TIME CTO Bharat Krish, and Kris Marszalek, the CEO of Crypto.com. TIME recently partnered with Crypto.com to begin accepting payments in cryptocurrency.
Speaking about that partnership, and about TIME’s recent sale of three digital covers in the form of NFTs, Grossman suggested this is only the start of TIME’s relationship with crypto.
Quoth Grossman: “We're playing in the NFT space for collectibles today. We're gonna play in the NFT space for subscriptions, memberships and access to unique experiences tomorrow. Overarchingly, we're seeing that partnerships with the likes of Crypto.com and others just make sense for us.”
NFTs are non-fungible tokens—cryptographically secured collectibles on a blockchain. They were a niche curiosity until earlier this year, when they exploded into the mainstream.
TIME’s NFT auction involved two old cover images, from 1966 and 2017, along with a new one created specifically for the sale. The new one sold for an eye-popping $130,000. Other outlets, like The New York Times and Quartz, have sold images of articles attached to NFTs (SPIN has dabbled in NFTs, too), but TIME is the first major publisher to accept crypto as a form of payment.
NFTs can be bought and sold as proof of ownership—a pure investment play—but they’re often bundled with “deluxe” perks that aren’t explicitly coded into the smart contracts. When the rock band Kings of Leon released NFTs tied to their recent album, they promised certain purchasers front row seats to their shows. Saturday Night Live’s NFT invited the highest bidder to attend an upcoming show in person.
It’s possible TIME is planning a kind of deluxe membership program along these lines, with crypto as a hook.
“We want to be the first ones adopting [crypto] within that space, from a media industry perspective, so we can be leading in this pack,” said Krish. “It's here to stay. Even in a bear market.”