Mark Cuban is about the speak at the Online News Association and I told the VP from the NY Times who introduced him that the Wall Street Journal reported just this second that Google is negotiating to buy YouTube for $1.6 billion. Cuban has been saying that anybody who’d buy YouTube is an idiot. So she asks whether Google is an idiot.
Cuban launches: “Rumors are rumors and just that… Today, in this day and age, rumors have a lot of currency and take on a life of their own…. Should Google buy YouTube? They’d be crazy…. YouTube: Mentos and Diet Coke is fascinating. [Laugh] I’m all for user-generated content, don’t get me wrong….” He talks about the copyright issues around YouTube and says content will be taken down. “The minute that acquisition takes place, YouTube couldn’t be YouTube.”
He’s asked what he would do if he ran a newspaper site. He answers that he’d first figure out what his core competencies are and what will keep others out of his business. He says the first asset is access and says that “we got Dan Rather for HD and he has access.” I’d say the asset is different but the point is right nonetheless. He says the challenge is not technology but marketing. He talks about his marketing of Akeelah and the Bee and “our marketing sucks.” He said they spent $20 million in marketing to get $20 million in box office.
“Going to the physical world, I don’t understand why newspapers aren’t more expensive.” Well, except the value isn’t in paper or disribution.
Asked what the benefit of user-generated content is for newspapers, he suggests putting up every high school concert. Uh, Mark, how about the copyright?
He complains about the length of copyright and also says that he put one of his movies out on DVD without copyright protection because he didn’t want to pay Macrovision for protection that “any 6-year-old” can break.
I left the keyboard to discuss YouTube with him. I argued that we’re losing the opportunities of the distributed world and that it will change when distributed media is ready for advertising. He says that won’t work, making the standard argument that ads would end up on porn sites. He says at the end that he likes Revver, which does have the infrastructure for ads and rights; he says YouTube is just flawed.
I then ask him to talk about Sharesleuth and journalism, which we’ve argued about via blog. Rich Jaroslovsky from Bloomberg follows up — knowing how to ask the question better than I did — and says that the arrangement from Sharesleuth wouldn’t pass the smell test with news organizations. If the Dallas Morning News did the same thing, would that be ok? He says yes, if the arrangement was known. That, I think, is where the split comes. A newspaper would not do that. The Bloomberg man keeps pushing his definition: It’s the transparency that makes it OK, says Cuban. I still don’t buy it. I wish I could hear what the people in this room think.
Asked what he does on his computer, he says he is a
“slut” “sponge” reading everything: much news, starting his day with his RSS. [Note: I thought I heard “slut;” Cuban leaves a message saying he said “sponge.” Well, slut is fun. But sorry.]
He is asked whether ubiquitous wireless broadband will affect regular TV. He says “not at all.” He acknowledges that video is watched on computers, particularly in the office, on computers. “As far as broadband taking over television, ain’t gonna happen. They will be complementary.” He says the hardest part of TV is the last inch into the TV: “despite what Apple is trying to tell you, that’s not the easy inch, that’s the angry inch.”
Cuban proves to be a charming guy. We just disagree a lot of the time.