I joked here today that Internet billionaire and HDnet/HD Movie Net founder Mark Cuban was an unintentional cut-up and in desperate need of Wikipedia. But he emailed me tonight that he wasn’t kidding.
At the National Cable and Telecommunications Association’s national show in Atlanta last week, there was the usual high-tech alphabet-speak being tossed around. I was told Cuban looked at ease boasting about how his high-def network is in front of 55 mil homes already (2.6 mil subs), including DirecTV, DISH, Charter, Time Warner. But when the conversation turned technical, he appeared to channel the average consumer who doesn’t know the difference between 720p or 1080i video delivery formats. Asked why his HDnet is the first national television network broadcasting all of its programming in 1080i resolution HD, Cuban responded: not because he thought it was better than the other formats but because it was a bigger number and he thought the public would be impressed by that.
So tonight, Mark Cuban emails me: “The point of my comment was that the consumer isn’t going to go to a Wikipedia or anywhere else for that matter to try to understand the difference between 1080 and 720p. That sometimes marketing decisions rule over technical decisions.” I happen to agree with him: size does matter, and perception is more important than reality. As Cuban himself noted at the end of one of his most recent blog postings: “It’s always a mistake to listen to your customers. The goal of any organization should be to give their customers or constituents what they will want, not what they did want. It’s not the job of the customer to know their future consumption habits. It’s your job.”
But don’t worry, Mark: I didn’t for a minute seriously think that somebody who’s made the equivalent of a Third World country’s GNP off the Internet doesn’t know much more tech-wise beyond programming the DVR.