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NATPE: Cuban stands up for old-fashioned TV

OTT services to face uphill battle, he says

MIAMI

Ever the nonconformist, Mark Cuban opened the NATPE confab by extolling the virtues of old-fashioned live TV, questioning the long-term viability of over-the-top services and defending cable’s traditional bundling model.

Cuban, the maverick investor whose many ventures include cabler AXS TV, said TV has a huge advantage over the Internet when it comes to delivering video and driving social-media activity.

“The Internet is designed for everything but video,” Cuban said during the Q&A sesh with CNN’s Poppy Harlow at Miami’s Fontainebleau hotel. “Television has become the medium for starting the social conversation that more people participate in than any other medium.”

He asserted that even programming that runs in the middle of the night on niche cable nets with no promotion typically draws more viewers than much of the video content on the Internet.

Cuban said the interest in driving second-screen activity is why his AXS TV emphasizes live events like concerts. “TV is the starting point for social conversation. It’s going to be so much bigger than it is now,” he declared.

Cuban said he thinks OTT services will face an uphill battle competing with cable/satellite companies. “When you have unlimited choice you also have unlimited expense … in trying to get your content to come to the front,” he said. “YouTube spent all that money to get content. They don’t know what’s going to work.”

Cuban thinks consumers will continue to pay their cable/satellite bills even with rising costs because it’s simply easier.

“People like bundles. They don’t want to have to work to get their entertainment,” he said.

And a push to go a la carte would “kill television,” he asserted, even as he acknowledged how hard it is to get distribution as an indie programmer compared with the major congloms.

He also made the point made by many industry execs about the growth of VOD viewing via cable platforms. “Views on VOD are growing faster than on YouTube,” he said.

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