Mark Cuban believes in TV.
Yes, we know: Mark Cuban as a straight shooter. But at this weekend’s Produced By Conference, he maintained the title during his discussion with Los Angeles Times’ entertainment and technology writer Dawn Chmielewsky with full aplomb. No one was off limits in his audience-approved unsanctioned advice, from chiding the networks’ suit over Dish’s ‘AutoHop’ feature, to telling independent content creators waiting to go ‘viral,’ “It ain’t gonna happen.”
The internet isn’t so special.
“The Internet has no inherent advantages over traditional television. None. Zilch. Zero. We’re starting to see the traditional TV providers take advantage of the digital opportunities that they hadn’t taken before, which creates new opportunities like AutoHop. And we’re only on the first pitch of the game, not even the first inning.”
TV kicks online content’s butt in revenue cycles.
“There are no multiple revenue cycles for online content right now. Deals with Netflix that create a definitive amount of cash, whether a show does well or not, the economics change dramatically for TV, making it a much more stable business believe it or not. TV is an undervalued medium, really.”
The easy does it.
“The company that is ‘always on,’ wins. The trick is to make it easier – easier to access everything, easier to keep people’s attention, total integration across all platforms. Remember why people watch TV: because they’re bored. You might have great content, but no one cares that much if you have to work to find it – i.e., closing out of one app and opening another.”
Don’t produce before you can market.
“Online programming has been around a lot longer than people realize. The cost of storage and broadband into the home was the reason we didn’t see it sooner. In terms of online content production now, the only thing that has changed is the price, but the hardest part is and always has been marketing. It’s difficult to stand out. Honestly, you have to come up with a marketing strategy before you get into production – how you are going to make people aware of what you’re doing.”
Traffic is your problem.
“A lot of content producers aren’t willing to put in that blocking and tackling effort, like I did back in my AudioNet days. When we started, I was spending half of my day finding any website and any email off that website and emailing them about AudioNet. But that’s what you have to do to generate traffic, that’s part of the job. Sitting back and waiting to go viral just isn’t going to happen.”
Online numbers are deceiving.
“Numbers can be misinterpreted. Comparing web and TV numbers is like comparing apples and oranges. A bad timeslot of a Friday night with 1 million views is way better than 1 million YouTube views over a month. For good number online I would put together a marketing plan for a specific time period, like a premiere hour for a video release. But until we get to that kind of metric I don’t think online will beat TV in the numbers game.”
And so is Facebook.
“There is a ‘like’ inflation going on right now. I’m not sure quite yet how you translate a Facebook ‘like,’ but even if it doesn’t translate 100 percent into some sort of revenue, some percentage eventually will translate. When I was on Dancing with the Stars in 2007 and someone ‘liked’ their Facebook page because of it, is that still valid now and fueling advertisers? I don’t know…”
Hey, Studios! You should make more blockbusters.
“When it comes to studio blockbuster films, like ‘The Avengers,’ as long as they make their hits big hits, it should cover for their mistakes. It’s a venture capital model, really – you’re not going to hit on every investment you make. Their biggest challenge for that model is that they can’t make enough movies because they don’t have the capital. Really, they should be making 20 a year.”
Ideas don’t count.
“Don’t ever start with, ‘I have this idea.’ And definitely don’t come to me with that. Control your own destiny and do it, don’t think about it.”