Advertising Week 2006

Mark Cuban Is Waiting for YouTube to Get Sued

He Also Wants You to Stop Being Cheap and Make Hi-Def Ads Already

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Mark Cuban was his usual opinionated and effusive self when he addressed an early-morning crowd at the TV Week Spotlight event during Advertising Week. Take his view on YouTube, which is that the video-sharing site made it big "because they had no problem with copyright laws. ... The minute YouTube gets sold there's going to be a deep pocket that gets sued."

Click fraud: Teens' fault
YouTube, however, wasn't the only target on his hit list. What's his take on click fraud? It's the fault of teens who can "set up a blog, get Google AdWords on it and get all your friends to click on it. So what if you make $50 or $100 -- that's better than what dad gives you for allowance. Now imagine that's going on around the world ... it's just too easy."

On viewing a standard-definition ad on a high-definition TV: "It screams 'Hey, I'm a cheap advertiser! Change the channel!'"

TV Week Publisher Chuck Ross, who conducted the Q&A, said the excuse he hears for creating standard-definition ads is that HDTVs have not yet reached critical mass. "But YouTube [has]?" interrupted Mr. Cuban. "A million people watching three-minute clips of Lonelygirl is critical mass?"

The HD ad scenario
He compared the move from analog to hi-def to radio's move from AM to FM frequencies and said not every channel will be able to make the jump to hi-def by 2009, when every TV sold will be HD. He questioned whether advertisers thought about the ramifications of such a scenario.

"Almost every TV sold in 2007 is hi-def and more [will be high def] in 2008 and they all will be in 2009 -- and, by the way, standard def looks worse in an HDTV," he said. "Are you doing long-term ad deals without knowing whether you're going to be in the AM ghetto?"

The morning session was nothing if not interactive. Several times Mr. Cuban or Mr. Ross addressed questions to the audience, asking them who owned HDTVs, how many had seen a standard-definition ad on an HD set and who had watched the first three seconds of a YouTube video before turning it off.

Battle with cinema owners
One member of the audience asked about resistance Mr. Cuban has gotten from cinema owners on his plan to release movies at the box office, on cable and on DVD within the same window. Mr. Cuban's idea is that theater owners could sell the DVD at the theater and get a cut of DVD revenues. Mr. Cuban defended the plan and said if movie theaters can't compete with the couch, "what business are you in?" He said Landmark, a chain of theaters he owns, is in the "date business ... we're the answer to cabin fever."

He conceded that moving to such a condensed release window could cause a reduction in the number of cinemas, but "it'd be a stronger business because of multiple revenue streams."

Advertising Age Embedded Player
Most Popular