Talk is cheap. Television networks are not. Mark Cuban, billionaire, is one of the rare few that can afford both. And he's proven his affinity for each by recently speaking at NATPE, about many topics, among them his AXS TV network (with partner Ryan Seacrest) and his belief in the power of television in our society.
At first blush, television isn't thought of as "Social Media." Social Media is typically thought of as reserved for status updates, hashtags and an oversaturation of baby pictures. Therefore, "Social" is a viral space that needs word of mouth and a busy personal network to have its impact.
The example that Mr. Cuban used was the billion or so online views for "Gangnam Style". No one will dispute that YouTube is squarely a "social medium," but all of those combined views of "Gangnam" didn't match the social experience of watching the Super Bowl, voting for your favorite Idol or Voice or Dancing Star, or seeing the ball drop on New Year's Eve.
And that's the social aspect that Mr. Cuban was focusing upon. That TV is a place to share in an experience, not one to share your experiences. He called it "zero latency," in that we all experience it at the same time. Despite this being the Era of Time Shifting, television is truly the Mass Medium. "Gangnam" was a meme, and as he said, "who talked about it when they watched it?" Those billion hits on YouTube don't translate on the same cultural consciousness level as television because we don't have the same connective experience with it.
Moreover, the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform report confirms the ongoing dominance of television in the face of the Online Spring – 97% of all video is watched on television. Online accounts for 2% of all video viewing. Mobile, 1%.
Let's face it, no one's going to pass on a chance to do TV because they want to stay on YouTube.
Social Media without television would be a very different place. It's no coincidence that Mr. Cuban is talking about this - he's invested in a broadcast television network. And it's for exactly that reason – "to tap into the immediacy of TV and its dominance as a social media conversation starter." Mr. Cuban believes that he will be providing a network that is of particular interest to the "Cable Nevers" and cord cutters. He hopes to give them a "unique experience" of immediate, live content that delivers the scale of broadcast television.
TV is really the only medium that begets content on another medium. We talk about TV on social media. Especially those live events that people share on TV. All it takes is a look at something like the Grammys. It's a broadcast event, but will have the most social media mentions for the week. The fact is, television drives a large percentage of social media conversations in some way. Typically it's about what we're watching – or telling others they should be watching – but often it's passing along information that they've learned by watching television.
Mr. Cuban concurs. "Television has become the medium to start a social conversation. We have become so Internet centric over the past 20 years that everyone assumes the solution for social media will be on the Internet. It's TV." He added that "We're using television as an instigator (for posting to social media). The reality is that when you are watching TV, it's a unique experience that you cannot get online."
So why should we pay so much attention to what the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks has to say about TV? Well, he made his fortune in the dot-com boom, selling his Internet radio business to Yahoo!. So perhaps this Internet radio guy might have learned some valuable lessons about long-term success and taking his business to the next level – by investing in television.
Don Seaman joined the TVB in January 2012 as Manager of Marketing Communications, where he is responsible for promoting and raising awareness of the TVB, and of Local Broadcast Television’s value propositions within the traditional and digital media industries. Don can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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