Mark Cuban, gave a presentation at the UBS media and communications conference Thursday, and walked through the future of high-definition television and what it means for TV and Internet video.
Cuban owns HDNet and is admittedly partial to high-def video. "When you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. High-def is my hammer," said Cuban. See Barron's Tech Trader Daily for another recap.
Nevertheless, he did touch on some key crossroads where HDTV, TV and Internet video meet.
Crossroad 1: The move to high-definition will raise the bar of what consumers expect. Cuban argued that HDTV will raise expectations of what a video viewing experience should be. Once HDTV becomes the norm it's going to be really hard to watch footage shot on tape. That means some TV networks will fall away because it costs too much--or will be impossible--to convert tape to digital. The argument: Will people watch VH1 Classic if they aren't high-def.
Crossroad 2: If consumers expect HDTV quality for every video that could spell trouble for Internet video, which at best is TV quality. According to Cuban, Internet video is going to be limited to reaching an audience at their PCs during the day. "The hammer will be the big screen TV in the living room," argued Cuban.
Crossroad 3: Couldn't high-def quality eventually be streamed? Cuban argues that it would take some big pipes--8 to 10 megabytes per second--to stream high-def video. That's not going to happen anytime soon.
The big question is whether you buy all Cuban's pitch. Personally, the only time I really miss high-def is when watching sports. Otherwise, I don't care all that much. Meanwhile, different expectations will be set for various distribution methods. I don't expect TV quality out of YouTube or a sports stream at my desk. However, if everyone gets addicted to high-def quality Internet video could start looking like black and white movies.