Will HDTV Kill Network Television?

Dec 26th, 2006 | By | Category: Digital Video Downloads, Making Money with Podcasts, Podcast Distribution, Video Podcasts, Vlogs

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban, Chairman of HDNet, thinks that HDTV is a Internet video killer:

HDTV is the Internet video killer. Deal with it. Internet bandwidth to the home places a cap on the quality and simplicity of video delivery to the home, and to HDTVs in particular. Not only does internet capacity create an issue, but the complexity of moving HDTV streams around the home and tp the HDTV is pretty much a deal killer itself. Together, internet video is destined for the PC monitor for a long time to come. The only wild card that will have an impact is gaming consoles, but they dint offer access to internet video, they all kill themselves by only offering access to content inside their walled gardens. Internet video won’t replace TV. It wont even complement TV offerings. It will flourish in the office. It will be a fun way to share personal content privately or publicly. It will be Community Access TV.

On the flip side, HDTV is here and now. Its gone from being a future technology that could be cool in our living room to being the King of this holiday shopping season. 10s of millions of HDTVs have been sold and will be sold in the next year. The number of households with HDTVs is exploding. Yet for reasons I cant figure out, the broadcast networks are ignoring the opportunity it presents.

The 4 broadcast networks are really the only 4 companies that create content on a daily basis that can put smiles on the faces of all those HDTV buyers. They broadcast most of their prime time signals over the air and have the greatest reach on cable and satellite HD delivery.

Cuban makes some interesting points, but seems to be ignoring the fact that people have made Internet video one of the fastest growing forms of media, despite the fact that most Internet video looks crappy.

There are more HD televisions than ever before, and people are going to want to use them to watch High-Def. However, buying an HDTV doesn’t mean that viewers want to turn their brains off:

  • People still hate intrusive advertising.
  • People still want to choose what to watch and when they want to watch it.
  • People still want a broader variety of content.
  • People still want to watch content that can’t be shown on network TV
  • People still want to watch stupid stuff that doesn’t get shown on network TV
  • People still want to have their own show, and watch stuff made by people like themselves.

Cuban’s perspective may be clouded by his investment in HDNet, a high-definition cable television network.

HDTV isn’t an Internet video killer – HD just lets networks deliver bad TV at a higher resolution.

Video podcasters, on the other hand, are demoing an alternate approach that offers less intrusive advertising, viewing on-demand, content that can’t be shown on network TV and the potential for anyone to participate. Podcasts such as Mariposa HD, The Big D in HD, Rocketboom and others are already delivering high-definition Internet video to growing audiences.

It’s too early to say that HDTV via the Internet will be a network-television killer, but there’s a growing audience for independent Internet video, even at low resolution. As more shows offer high-resolution feeds and as the technology for delivering video over the Internet improves, it will be easier for video podcasters to deliver HDTV than it will be for networks to wean themselves from intrusive advertising.

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No Responses to “Will HDTV Kill Network Television?”

  1. This is one of the most relevant articles I’ve seen at Podcasting News.

  2. RobOnt says:

    Mark Cuban is insane and totally out of touch with internet reality… Internet video is video for the people by the people which is why it is as popular as it is and why it is growing at the rate it is. HD is TV, nothing wrong with that but it is what it is and it will not affect what is going on the net.

  3. One thing’s for sure: network TV’s on the way out, and pick your reasons: DVDs, network TV viewing and downloading sites all over the web, cable, HDTV, etc.

    But I wish Mark Cuban luck – if only because had the excellent sense to sign up Dan Rather.

  4. info says:

    Trevor – thanks for the feedback.

    RobOnt – Mark Cuban may be insane and out of touch – but he’s also a billionaire with an HDTV network to hype. Maybe he’s crazy like a fox….

  5. No Adverts says:

    These guys just don’t get it. Broadcast is dead because it doesn’t support On Demand. And furthermore, would people be listening so avidly to compressed music on portable music players if quality was so important? And what about the people that have begun to watch individually on tiny portable screens in droves. These screens will grow or perhaps there will be a cost effective viewing headset for the eyes comparable to headphones for the ears. This is the future.

  6. Eric says:

    People are also forgetting about the tech behind the videos on the internet. The new H.264 codec alone should be reason enough to keep the execs at HDNet up at night. Already, sites like DiDGU.com are in beta mode, pushing the limits of quality for internet video, and doing a killer job.


  7. RobOnt says:

    True… but remember he thought his search engine (Icerocket) would overtake google as well. I’m a tech whore, I bought a first gen grand wega and hd box as soon as it became available, but to compare internet video to HD television is (to be terribly cliche) like comparing apples to oranges. HD will do nothing to internet video because it is two completely different mediums. Mr Cuban should be far more worried about what Apple’s iTV will do to the HD world 😉

  8. Jae says:

    Cuban is wrong.
    HDTV and internet video are two totally distinct entities at this point and are consumed differently and for different purposes.
    That said, clarity and quality has never been the deal breaker.
    The history of photography was a steady decline in quality from the initial fine detail large wet plates then through to little thirty five millimeter frames and then digital.
    Generally speaking, each step of the evolution DECREASED the quality of the final product but increased the use of photography among the general public.
    So goes video.
    People will put up with a lot in return for ease of use and application.

  9. info says:


    Good point – they are sort of Apples and Oranges. It’s hard to say if Cuban’s opinion is skewed by his business interests, or if he’s just using his blog to pimp his business.

    Jae – you’re right about digital technology decreasing quality. I was around during the desktop publishing revolution, and when Macs started taking over, typography and layout went to hell. The benefits of desktop publishing were worth the tradeoff, though. Most of the indie videos you see aren’t up to pro standards by a long-shot, but a lot of people would rather deal with mediocre video quality than sit through a bunch of stupid ads.

  10. […] A grande richiesta torna il “Momento Hey Stoopid(TM)” con l’inestimabile contributo di Mark Cuban, chairman di HDNet. Qui le esternazioni del nostro. […]

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