Mark Cuban and the Big Networks Are Idiots to Fight Google TV

Last Updated Oct 25, 2010 1:52 PM EDT

[UPDATE: Don't miss the first comment -- apparently from Cuban himself -- below.]
It's hard to believe that Mark Cuban, a pioneer who made his fortune streaming television to the Web, really doesn't understand how Google TV works. But in his latest diatribe, How Google TV Could Hand Netflix the Entire Streaming Universe, Cuban demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding when it comes to both the technical and business model of web TV.

His main point is that Google (GOOG) should be paying the networks for the right to show their content, just as Netflix (NFLX) does. "If Google sticks to their guns of not paying up front for content like Netflix does, they will have handed Netflix the entire streaming universe on a platter."

But Google is not asking for the rights to stream anything. Google TV simply allows consumers to access the Web through their television sets. True, Google has layered some things on top of this, like the ability to search for shows and multitask between programming and internet applications. Unlike Netflix, however, is doesn't provide consumers with streaming access to any shows.

Cuban is playing off the news that major networks like ABC, NBC and CBS have blocked access to their shows through Google TV. This is a stupid and reactionary thing for the networks to do, and lends ammunition to clueless blowhards like Cuban.

Google wasn't attempting to show any programming that didn't already exist as free, ad-supported streams on the Web. All the networks have done, by blocking access to Google, is to prevent their programming from reaching a wider audience in a setting is more conducive to advertisers: the biggest, central screen in the house.

"So riddle me this Batman," writes Cuban. "Netflix is on Google TV , correct ? Given that Netflix pays and Google TV doesn't, why wouldn't/shouldn't the broadcast networks offer all of their shows to Netflix as a way to reach Google TV users, knowing that they will get paid for their content."

That's actually a smart idea, but not one that runs counter to Google's current strategy, as Cuban implies.

Image from Wikicommons

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  • Ben Popper

    Ben Popper writes at the intersection of culture and technology. His work has been published in the NY Times, Washington Post, Fast Company, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic and many others. He lives at www.benpopper.com.

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