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Cuban: YouTube Videos Akin to Walmart ‘Bargain Bin’

13 Apr, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

YouTube’s domination of online video consumption remains impressive in every data metric except marketing relevance, said Mark Cuban, outspoken owner of HDNet, Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures and the Dallas Mavericks, in a blog post.

Cuban was responding to a recent announcement by the Google-owned social media site that it would begin offering “live” streaming on its platform. Some analysts contend Google’s deep pockets could produce original content and entice studio license agreements supplanting market leader Netflix.

Indeed, YouTube finished another month (March) besting runner-up AOL Inc. with total unique video viewers of 147 million compared with 57 million for the online portal pioneer, according to comScore. The average viewer watched more than 275 minutes of largely user-generated content.

Cuban said the fact that YouTube will foot the cost of hosting family/personal, business videos is honorable. But consumers looking to watch a movie or TV program will do so through their cable or satellite operator, or Netflix — and not YouTube.

In fact, he characterizes YouTube’s user-generated video fare to merchandise found in bargain bins at Walmart — a flea market of largely unmarketable products.

“YouTube is where you know 99% of what is on the site is pure junk that has no relevance to you,” Cuban wrote in a post (BlogMaverick.com). “It’s like walking through the bargain bin at Walmart hoping to find something that might interest you, knowing the price is right. YouTube is community access television for the world.”

The latter refers to cable’s early days when operators (seeking community support for home access) featured so-called “B” channels, whereby anyone with an agenda and a video camera could air original programming.

“YouTube is the aggregation of every ‘B’ side of every cable system in the world,” Cuban wrote. “That is not a knock on YouTube. It just ain’t what it ain’t.”

Cuban said Netflix, by comparison, attracts subscribers through a user-friendly platform available on hundreds of CE devices and rapidly evolving content. Netflix has more than 20 million subs — 11 million of who pay $7.99 per month to only stream content. He said YouTube continues to define social media video, but more as an egalitarian platform than a revenue driver.

“The lines of division between YouTube, Netflix and traditional TV have become crystal clear,” Cuban wrote. “Netflix has done an extraordinary job of being available easily on any and every device known to the Internet.”

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