What is HarkTV?

HarkTV is a live streaming platform for social good powered by the Theta Network. It features:

  • Governance tokens for streamers & nonprofits.
  • Optional allocation of streamer TFuel donations to charities of their choice.
  • Easy TFuel donations to select nonprofits.
  • Viewers can gain TFuel by watching streams of their choice.

Conception

HarkTV started as an idea, spawned from the Theta Hackathon, for a political livestreaming platform. Due to Theta's ability to excel in concentrated areas, we believed that political rallies and local political streams would be strong candidates as a Theta use case. While we plan to introduce features that are similar to these in the future, after interviewing a campaign advisor and a campaign finance lawyer, we decided that while the idea was possible, the cost of adhering to all 50 state's regulations on top of federal regulations in comparison to the little interest in an off-campaign season was too great. Instead, we decided to pivot and lean heavily into nonprofits. They too can benefit from localized streaming, since many nonprofits are for developing a certain community. However, nonprofits are admittedly less galvanizing.
If you're interested, you can take a look at our original student concept paper here.

Features

As is with any good livestreaming platform, there are base features. Users can watch livestreams & chat alongside other viewers. Streamers can customize descriptions for their streams and link to external pages to collect donations. And like ThetaTV, you can give streamers TFuel due to the Theta P2P integration. Yes, it took a lot of time for us to get it working. But who cares? Let's get on to the new stuff...

Hark Platform Token

Smart contracts on the platform require a reference to the Hark Platform token. Users' TFuel transactions on the website are taxed a small amount (currently 1%). Users will gain HARK tokens for actions on the website. In return, they will be able to vote in an election to decide which nonprofit will recieve the total lump sum! Platform Token Explanation While the HARK token is currently collecting tax, we have its distribution disabled for the time being. Its functionality will not be introduced until there has been a substantial amount of TFuel taxed and ready to be redistributed. The HARK token serves as a framework for future features, and may even become a widely traded token, depending on the direction of development. It's exciting to see what's next to come for the Theta ecosystem!

Hark Custom Token

Streamers can apply for a Hark Custom Token, which will serve as a basis for community DAOs. Users who donate to the streamer will recieve 100 freshly minted respective custom tokens for each TFuel donated. This format allows for tokenized loyalty to a content creator, similar to channel points but based on the blockchain.
Custom Token Explanation In the future, we hope that these tokens will evolve into fully fleshed out DAOs that have APIs and external developers’ smart contracts interacting with them. In the extremely near future, users will be able to vote in polls based off of their governance token (it didn't make it into the development phase). You can learn more about both the Hark Custom Token and the Hark Platform Token on our alpha website.

TFuel Redistribution

Any streamer that has a Hark Custom Token can redistribute a percentage of their earnings to a nonprofit that they believe in. This makes our platform encourage social good by design. Viewers will still be able to gain the custom tokens like always, but they will know that the streamer that they are supporting believes in something greater than themselves.
Redistribution Explanation

If there are any issues at all with the alpha website, please let us know at info@hark.tv. We are happy to help/hotfix.

Creation & Challenges

As the Theta team is probably quite aware, there are a lot of components that go into making a streaming platform. While we took inspiration from open source code, getting Theta's features to work with traditional solutions was more difficult than anticipated. Regardless, we managed to create a solution that works on our platform.

Frontend

The front end is hosted on an NGINX webserver through AWS. It is built with vue.js with the nuxt framework. The components themselves are from vuetify. The frontend was originally taken from an open source project as a framework, but many components and stylings have since changed to reflect the theme of the current platform.
We made use of the Theta streaming modules, but due to the nature of nuxt we had to download each of Theta's frontend files and make our own modifications so that they would load properly. While this sucked up time, it gave us insights into the Theta code.

Backends

Every frontend needs a backend. We used Firebase for our backend, making use of the Firestore and Cloud Functions features. Here is where we make use of the theta.js SDK to interact with smart contracts and Theta streaming. Additionally, we required a second server that handles streaming. We used docker to set up a port for RTMP Ingest to stream into an NGINX server. Connections are checked by an internal api to ensure that the streamkey is correct. This code was mainly taken from multiple open source projects.

Blockend

We coined the word blockend to describe the solidity code that we wrote for the platform. This primarily had to do with the HARK platform token, streamers' custom governance tokens, and the election contract.
Development of the solidity code took place completely within Remix. While we tried to make use of Truffle, we found that the SDK required a compilation format that was outputted easiest within Remix. We still made use of the OpenZepplin framework to create our contracts, however.

Traction

We have contacted many nonprofits, some of which have gotten on board with the idea. We hope to continue expanding our range of nonprofits to cover as many issues as we can on our platform.
Additionally, we have applied to multiple competitions with a pitch deck, poster, and demo site. We introduced the Theta Network & Hark to judges that included VCs, business developers, and company leads. Keep in mind that these competitions took place or are taking place during the Theta Hackathon, during which Hark's concept was concieved.
HarkTV Awards We're currently in the process of collecting emails in preparation for a future mainnet launch. Fun fact: from initial ad spend, we have found that users aged 16-20 are more interested in proportion to Twitch. You can see our landing page here.

Market

The reader is likely aware of the extra benefits that the Theta Protocol provides to livestream users and platforms. The reader is also likely aware of Twitch and its dominance over the live streaming market. Our business model will mimick Twitch, insofar as we will gain revenue from advertisements & taking a cut of fiat donations. But our platform in particular takes another step, and adds an additional nonprofit twist. Like ThetaTV, our platform will attract people who have interest in blockchain, but will also attract users who have galvanized around a cause. While both ThetaTV and Twitch are lazer focused on gaming content, the nature of Hark due to its social contributions will have it ebb towards vlogging/podcasting/chatting/lifestyle content. That is not to say that the platform will reject other types of content, it just means that Hark has the potential to tap into a different market.
Additionally, we believe that in the future we can expand into an older audience, since they statistically care more about social good and civic engagement.

Novelty

HarkTV is not new in the fact that it is a livestreaming platform, but we hope that some of our features will be novel enough to make a lasting impact on the market.

  1. Social good is integrated into blockchain through smart contract redistribution payments.
  2. Organizations are eligible to easily create their own Theta-Network DAO, which can help represent communities in a new way.
  3. Platform-wide tokens essentially represent loyalty to the service, which aids retention of users as their score (token count) increases.
Contribution to Theta Network
  1. Much of the project is open source. The code that is available to the public will serve as additional examples on how to integrate the Theta Network into websites.
  2. We have been contacting many nonprofits, who are being introduced to crytocurrency- specifically Theta. We hope that Hark will spearhead the growth of crypto-philanthropy and drive Theta's widespread adoption/recognition.

The Future for HarkTV

We are still in active development: this is not the end for HarkTV. We will have a soft launch near early May, and plan to launch to the Theta mainnet in late May/early June. Base monetization features such as ad revenue sharing and fiat subscriptions will come with mainnet launch. Additional features like NFTs are planned, but they will depend on user acquisition rate & demand. Learn more about our proposed future features & what we're calling our Grassroots phase on our alpha page.
Timeline Looking further forward, there are a few paths that Hark can go down. While it is slated to become a standalone streaming site, we are open to partnership opportunities with other platforms. If a more major livestreaming platform would like to use HarkTV as a social good sister site, as a team we would be quite interested. Alternatively, our platform is open to pivoting towards ticketed events or hosting online localized events, since they would care more about supporting local causes & it would be more efficient for the Theta network.
Regardless, our team looks forward to the future of Hark, and are excited for what's next to come.

Team

Our developer team has 4 active members. We also have a fifth member who helps handle part of the business & communications end.
Kevin Xu - Technical Lead - kevin.xu@hark.tv
Jeremy Boetticher - Project Lead - jeremy.boetticher@hark.tv
Ian Koh - Full Stack - ian.koh@hark.tv
Raymond Cao - Front End - raymond.cao@hark.tv
Marc Adriel Villafuerte - Communications - marc.villafuerte@hark.tv

Bonus: Kevin has sworn that he will eat a shirt if we win a prize. The team is both baffled and excited by his willingness to eat clothing. We hope to stream him eating a shirt on Hark after prizes are announced.
Bonus 2: Special thanks to Rene Garcia. His immediate responses were extremely helpful in creating this project. He deserves a raise. =)

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Updates

posted an update

After communications with business advisors, the Theta team, and internal calculations, we have decided to pivot slightly in a different direction. We plan to continue using Theta on the platform, but its use as a direct competitor to Twitch (and Theta.tv) will be replaced with a different business model. As such, we will need a lot of time to alter the development of the platform, validate market research, and acquire early users/testers. Previous plans for the platform's timeline are now outdated as the team intends to expand into a sustainable future.

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posted an update

After deliberation with advisors and among our team, we've decided to postpone our beta launch so that we can provide additional features for our users. We want our platform to be unique enough to be a competitor in the livestreaming landscape, and we hope that you'll be happy with the result. More info soon. =)

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