The Voice in the Metaverse

With its signature blind auditions (and competitive celebrity coaches), The Voice helped to redefine singing talent competitions. In another groundbreaking, innovative move, the hit show has made its way into the metaverse, thanks to a partnership between ITV Studios and Virtual Brand Group (VBG).

“We are always looking at new ways to refresh our brands and engage new audiences,” says Lucie Stoffers, head of brand licensing for global entertainment at ITV Studios. “The reason for us to bring The Voice into the metaverse is that it opens up new opportunities for us to engage with Gen Z. If you look at our first activation within Decentraland, we have introduced a new set of metaverse coaches, launched a custom game, exciting wearables and a unique opportunity for fans to take their ***Image***selfie with their favorite U.S. coaches like John Legend or Gwen Stefani in the NBC area.”

In The Voice VIP Superverse, attendees compete in a Decentraland exclusive musical game overseen by four new metaverse coaches, where, each day, they award one-of-a-kind NFT merchandise to winners.

The Voice TV series is in some ways a precursor to today’s metaverse,” says Justin W. Hochberg, CEO and founder of VBG. “The format was the first to empower people to be heard for who they are, not what they looked like. Virtual worlds take that to the next level by allowing anybody to be anything on any given day. That self-expression is incredibly powerful.”

With 145 adaptations across the world, The Voice is established within a wide target demographic, making it ripe for metaverse activation. “One of the benefits of bringing our brand to a new platform is that everybody understands what the brand is about and knows, for example, what a Blind Audition is or that the coach chairs will spin after you push the red button,” Stoffers says. “This gives us an advantage in developing new content that fans can interact with, such as games or wearables.”

Stoffers adds that in the coming two years, ITV Studios’ goal is to experiment as much as possible in this new space and learn quickly, “so when the dust settles and the metaverse is more established, we will have a head start in creating more value for our brands. By then, we will hopefully know more about how to engage audiences with our content, where potential new monetization streams are and how we can potentially tie the metaverse in with our other touchpoints, such as subscription services, live events or physical merchandising. In the future, we imagine the metaverse to be a key pillar of our strategy.”

Hochberg emphasizes that tapping into the metaverse creates more interaction with a series “that makes it stickier and builds new revenue streams.

“The metaverse allows VBG to both connect fans in each territory among themselves and connect fans across all 145 territories in a central experience like metaverse music festivals, as we launched in Decentraland,” he continues. “Over time, that will quickly reward viewers, strengthen their ties to the programming and enable us to create new experiences we could never build in the real world due to the physical constraints and laws of gravity.”

VBG estimates that 1.5 billion people interact in the metaverse when combining social gaming platforms, virtual merchandise and virtual currencies. Hochberg says that every brand needs to have a metaverse strategy for two reasons: opportunity and threat.

The opportunity, he says, is that “entertainment IP is like when a pebble drops into a calm lake and creates ripples. The best IP management creates the most ripples. The metaverse enables us to create a whole new pond with a whole new set of ripples. Our research estimates the metaverse will be worth anywhere between $5 trillion and $13 trillion in the next five to six years. Entertainment will be a significant portion of that, especially when its IP also becomes new forms of virtual fashion and games among other revenue streams.”

The threat, meanwhile, is that “with every technological shift comes a new consumer behavior. We saw this with the rise of television versus films, VHS, the internet, social media and now the metaverse. However, rarely does entertainment lead these transitions. In fact, from our observation, media companies fight change until it’s too late. We call this the ‘last mover disadvantage.’

“Right now, on Roblox, players have created over 50 million different games, with new IP, new characters and new play patterns. The average consumer spends 78 hours on Roblox per month, which is more than Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Facebook combined. If your brand isn’t establishing a relationship in the metaverse, you risk being pushed aside by someone you’ve never heard of, just like Netflix did to Blockbuster.”