Forget the Internet, the Future Is the 'Intranet'

At CTAM: HDNet Founder Mark Cuban on Why VOD Will Rule

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- You can't have a Mark Cuban speech without at least one contrarian statement. In the past year alone, the HDNet founder has sounded off on everything from YouTube ("A million people watching three-minute clips of Lonelygirl is critical mass?" he said during Advertising Week) to local newspapers ("They're trying to grow like they're internet companies in 1999," he told Esquire). His latest target? The web. Did you hear? It's dead.
Mark Cuban: 'The internet is dead.'
Mark Cuban: 'The internet is dead.' Credit: Reuters

Speaking at the Cable Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) Summit in Washington yesterday, Mr. Cuban declared "the Internet is dead" in an otherwise subdued panel that included executives such as ESPN President George Bodenheimer and Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt.

'Neighborhood feel'
The real growth medium is the "intranet," otherwise defined as the on-demand and digital video-recording platforms provided by cable companies. "There's less restriction on the intranet, it's like your own corporate network for all the cable networks and even wireless," he elaborated in an interview after the panel. "It's all locally driven anyways. It has a true neighborhood feel. If I'm in Dallas and I'm on Time Warner Cable, I want localized content."

Mr. Cuban views the TV as the real computer, citing the decline in sales of desktop computers as a direct result of where media consumption is moving. "All that [content] is moving to the TV. What's the difference between a PC and a TV? Nothing." Social networking and user-generated content are all the rage for Web 2.0, but there's "nothing on the horizon" from a content perspective, he said (apparently glossing over the looming launches of NBC and News Corp.'s NewCo web-video venture and Joost). Broadband video, according to Mr. Cuban, has "stopped growing."

"Before the internet, people were doing whatever they were doing, thinking this was the end-all, be-all. I thought by 2007 the pipes would be so huge [for the web], you could do HD content and all that. And everything just didn't turn out. I was wrong," he said.

Premium price for TV ads
Advertising for TV will also come with more of a premium price tag in the future, Mr. Cuban said. "There will be fewer commercials that cost more. The bang for your buck will become the same."

But not everyone was quite as bullish as Mr. Cuban is on the growth of TV. Debora Wilson, CEO of the Weather Channel, listened to Mr. Cuban's internet rant and interjected a few thoughts of her own on what she still considers to be a viable medium.

"The internet is still in day two; there's so much flexibility," she said. "The other opportunities on TV are still in a slow phase. I've been in the market for 15 years and we're still waiting for that tipping point."
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