HDnet founder and Internet billionaire Mark Cuban predicts that within five years every household will have a high-definition set, but that not every network will be able to make the switch.
In an interview with Brian Lamb for an episode of C-Span's Q&A series, which airs March 26, Cuban cites technical constraints for his prediction. "There's just not enough bandwidth to go around ... There are little tweaks you can do that are coming down the pike that will make things better. There's compression, but it's going to be a game of survivor and so, not all cable networks will be there."
Cuban, who sold his Internet streaming company, Broadcast.com, for $5.7 billion to Yahoo in 2000, says that his company was on its way to being ahead of the curve, but that after the Internet market tanked, Yahoo "cut it way, way back."
Cuban points out that "everything that they're talking about [today], streaming media, video on the net, user-created content, broadband TV, IPTV, people watching television over the Internet instead of TV, that's exactly what we were doing six years ago."
He says he has no intention of selling his HDNet or HDNet Movies TV networks as he did with Broadcast.com, which he calls the "home run" he wasn't going to turn down. "I want to own a TV network. I want to have that platform. "
For one thing, like his movie house chain--Landmark Theaters (267 screens)--the TV net gives him a pipeline for the films he is now producing, like the acclaimed Good Night, and Good Luck, or Enron, or one he is working on about the Jack Abramoff scandal. "I know that they'll be seen," he says.
"The whole concept of [film production company] 2929 and our associated companies is to be able to make content and then control the whole vertical distribution chain," he told Lamb. "So, we can make it though 2929 or HDNet Films, we can show it on television through HDNet and HDNet Movies."
Cuban says his HD network is "in front of 55 million homes (2.6 million subs),including DirecTV, DISH, Charter, Time Warner and others.
So, why did Cuban decide to bankroll George Clooney's story about Edward R. Murrow's TV counterattack on Senator Joseph McCarthy's Communist witch hunt?
"The relevance of it was what was startling to me," he says."We look back 50 years at McCarthyism and his rants on Communism and we think, 'Oh, that can't happen again.' Yet now we turn around in an era where there's so much media that everybody's got the opportunity to rant, whether it's through blogs or other media, or having your own, you know, television network that goes right or left. And to us it's just happening all over again."