Why Mark Cuban Confuses the Crap Out of Me
Last night, I stumbled across a blog post that left me baffled. Mark Cuban, famed billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and HDNet, posted a blog detailing his thoughts on how Apple TV and Google TV should position themselves. His idea? As a distributor of social games, not TV content. Why? He never quite explains why, or at least, it’s incredibly unclear in his post, but he does detail how TV is the ultimate solution to boredom and internet is merely secondary (?), and thus, the only way Google TV and Apple TV are going to beat out TV and Netflix is by providing…social games. At least, I think that’s what he meant? To be fair, Mr. Cuban clearly wasn’t a journalism major in college.
Either way, I definitely got all cooked up over the situation. In the grand scheme of things, Cuban’s whole ‘boredom/TV over web/social games’ rule argument chain just seemed simply irrelevant. Out of place.
To me, it’s not about what form of entertainment is better or even whether broadcast networks are going to come out a winner or loser in the evolution of media (this will become clear in the upcoming years), but simply put – who is going to create a device that allows consumers the greatest flexibility of use? It’s about consumption patterns. We no longer want to turn on a TV and a computer and a DVD player and a Playstation – it’s time that it’s all integrated into one device, so that we can seamlessly glide from platform to platform to satisfy our excruciatingly small attention spans. Whatever device can best aggregate and deliver content will win, and it’s up to the media moguls to figure out how to work it out.
Here’s the long-winded comment I posted on Mark’s original post, as well as his response, which….well, you can read it below. Perhaps I just missed the point of his post, and perhaps he just missed the point of my comment. Like two goats trying to make conversation on a mountain. Either way, here you are:
Like @CarriBugbee, I think this is an incredibly simplified post about what’s really going on here.
Last night, I spent three plus hours consuming various types of media content – ALL on my computer. From watching an old episode of SNL on Hulu, to reading your blog post (which I found through someone else I’m following on Twitter), to watching several YouTube videos, to updating my Facebook and sharing several links with friends.
Never once was I inclined to turn on my television. To say that TV is the highest form of entertainment to cure boredom is, well, irrelevant.
Very few people just sit and watch three hours of straight TV programming without checking their email, updating their Facebook, and visiting their favorite celebrity gossip blog in the interim. If only we could just do it all on one device….
Studies are showing that content consumption is changing – at a rapid pace. In the 50?s, people turned on their TV’s at a specific time, every night, to watch a specific program sponsored by a single corporation. Out of this, the ratings system was born. Decades later, cable came along, as well as satellite TV (which you know all about), shaking up the traditional broadcast industry. Then along came DVR’s, a technology that has somehow continued to elude our current ratings systems, and people realized they could watch what they wanted WHEN they wanted.
It’s not about whether TV is the cure for boredom. It’s about whether the gatekeepers of traditional media are going to catch on, and leverage, current media consumption trends into new revenue models. Younger generations don’t want to pay for cable and satellite packages with shows we don’t need or want. We don’t buy CD’s anymore – we buy single tracks on iTunes. We don’t purchase subscriptions to newspapers, we just find online content that best fits the section of the newspaper we WOULD have been reading. And most importantly, we want to be able to discover content much like we browse the web, when it’s most convenient for us.
Available content, in and of itself, is expanding at lightning speed. From blogs to web series, online games to live web TV, the possibilities for entertainment seem virtually endless!
The challenge, with all of this content, is figuring out how to view it all in one place. People just need a device, i.e. the 42-inch ‘TV’ screen, that serves their fickle viewing/consumption needs. They want to watch Entourage and then share the episode link with all their friends on Twitter. From there, a retweet of a NY Times article header might catch their eye. They jump to that article. Off to the side of article is a video preview clip to a documentary that National Geographic just released. They click the video preview, and decide to buy the documentary via iTunes. Call it ADD, but this is the trend in media consumption, particularly in youth who grew up with video games, email, and social networking.
The ratings and traditional advertising system is outdated. Networks should be looking at a tiered revenue stream from the different platforms – up-front payments, advertising, as well as affiliate purchases from people buying products placed in shows (I want the dress that Blake Lively is wearing on Gossip Girl! I double click on the dress on my GoogleTV, it sends me to the merchandise’s website, I purchase the dress for $400, and bam, the CW just made a 5% affiliate fee.)
In your case, Mr. Cuban, feel free to charge me an extra $0.99 to watch HDNet’s Bikini Destinations via my GoogleTV. Develop a titillating social game based on the show, as well as a way for me to purchase one of the bikinis the girls are wearing. Maybe I’ll even tweet about it to my 10,000+ followers.
As someone active in both the digital media creation space and traditional media (I’ve sold shows on both sides of the spectrum), I am watching first hand how rogue individuals (YouTubers, bloggers, internet personalities), free from ratings and satellite package systems, are getting creative and setting the curve. How long will it take for the rest of the entertainment industry to jump on ship?
From what I know of you, you are an astute businessman, out-of-the-box thinker, and let’s be honest, did a very funny guest star on Entourage. And while I think your comments re: social game development above are fairly accurate, just don’t take yourself out of the all-in-one-device game by generalizing about consumption patterns.
Talk to the average 18 year old male (ironically, the very same money-spending demographic you would probably want to watch Bikini Destinations…) and let me know what they have to say.
MARK CUBAN’S RESPONSE
Taryn you are confusing popularity with profitability. Sometimes they go hand in hand. Sometimes they dont. Youtube and online content and entertainment are all great. They have in fact disrupted many industries. Newspapers. Music and more. But they haven’t disrupted TV because the business and numbers are different. The internet disrupts businesses with legacy ala carte business models (music/newspapers/magazines/books), it doesnt disrupt aggregation based business models. In fact the most successful business models on the net are aggregation plays. Aggregation doesnt disrupt aggregation
So there you have it, folks. If anyone cares to decipher Marc’s original post for me, that would be quite helpful. As for his comment, I don’t disagree at all about the aggregation part (isn’t that the point of my post?), so I’m not even sure what that meant. Either way, I think that’s enough social/online vs. traditional media talk for one day.
Time for a margarita!