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Today had a great article on Mark Cuban, most of it is on his business venture, but HDTV is talked about. Check it out if you have a subscription.

http://online.wsj.com/public/us
 

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The article on Mark was interesting, but I didn't think it's discussion of HDNet was very flattering:



"For the past two years, Mr. Cuban has been trying to build up a cable-TV channel that offers only high-definition programming. He maintains it's coming along well, though revenue is tiny and expenses approach $25 million a year. Programming currently consists of "Hogan's Heroes" reruns, major-league soccer games and a lot of vacation infomercials. Still, he contends public demand for high-definition television will soar, and that his venture, HD Net, will be "perfectly positioned" for that boom.


"Mark makes a lot of comparisons between HD Net and Broadcast.com," says his former business partner, Mr. Wagner. Analysts caution, though, that it may be harder this time. Content is more expensive, distribution rights are harder to negotiate, and big cable operators are likely to take command of the high-definition market. "What Mark is doing with HD Net feels like a transition product," says John Mansell, an analyst at Kagan World Media.


Still, some media executives predict Mr. Cuban eventually will sell HD Net for a profit. "I'd expect Mark to get out twice what he put in," says Rob Glaser, founder of Real Networks Inc., a Seattle digital-media company. Mr. Cuban is coy about whether HD Net eventually will be for sale, but says that if the right partners emerge, he might sell a sizable stake in the company."
 

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After Hitting It Big on Internet,

Cuban Is Scoring in Basketball


Dallas Mavericks Owner Beat

Buzzer on the Internet Bubble

By GEORGE ANDERS

Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL



DALLAS -- People snickered in January 2000 when Internet tycoon Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks for $280 million. It was a startling sum for a National Basketball Association team with a perennial losing record and thousands of empty seats at most home games.


Not only was Mr. Cuban throwing his cash around, he seemed too goofy to last long in the ultracompetitive NBA. Days after agreeing to buy the Mavericks, he invited team executive Terdema Ussery to his 24,000-square-foot mansion for dinner, only to offer him a bag of Doritos, a bottle of water and a seat on the living room floor. There was hardly any furniture in the house, Mr. Ussery recalls -- and no other sign of food except for the Cocoa Puffs cereal Mr. Cuban dined on.



Today, Mr. Cuban is getting the last laugh. His Mavericks won 60 of their 82 games this year, tying for the best in the league, and the team's finest showing since it joined the NBA in 1980. Two of his players made the All-Star team. And the Mavericks drew sellout crowds for all 41 regular-season home games, another first in franchise history. The team beat the Portland Trail Blazers in game one of their first-round playoff series. The next game is Wednesday night.


On game nights, the 44-year-old Mr. Cuban, in jeans and a Mavericks T-shirt, is a courtside spectacle. He taunts the referees and cheers for his team so rabidly that center Shawn Bradley calls him "that psycho at the end of the bench." The NBA fined Mr. Cuban eight times during his first two seasons -- a total of more than $1 million -- for making derogatory comments about the officiating, and crowds have loved it. Even at Mavericks' road games, fans come up to him, asking for autographs or a chance to snap a picture with him.


But anyone who thinks Mr. Cuban is nothing more than a giddy, overgrown kid has been watching ESPN too much. He is one of the sports world's shrewdest owners. He made $1.7 billion by selling his Internet company to Yahoo Inc. in 1999 just before the market peak, and then preserved most of that fortune against the dot-com crash by hedging strategies that amounted to bets against Yahoo's stock.


Away from the basketball court, Mr. Cuban is a hard-nosed operator who still relies on the formulas that shaped his pre-NBA career. He keeps cheap offices and does much business by e-mail. He spends a lot of his time promoting a new high-definition-television venture and making aggressive bets in financial markets. And at any hour of day or night, Mr. Cuban never stops selling.


Two-and-a-half miles from the Mavericks' sleek new arena, in which he holds a 50% stake, Mr. Cuban works in a concrete-floored former warehouse on the edge of downtown Dallas. There's no glamour here, just dozens of Mavericks ticket salespeople in tiny gray cubicles, dialing incessantly. On the wall, in huge letters, is a favorite Cuban slogan: "Every minute of every day is selling time."


When Mr. Cuban took over as Mavericks owner, the team had five people selling season tickets. Not enough, the new boss said. He hired one of his buddies, George Prokos, a former salesman of car-gasket sealants, to run ticket sales and told him: "I don't care if you have to hire 18,147 sales people and give them each one seat to sell. I want the house sold out every night."


Mr. Prokos bulked up the sales force to 20 people, and handed them Yellow Pages listings of attorneys, car dealers and other likely ticket buyers. He told his new hires to make 100 outbound calls a day. He recalls that Mr. Cuban wandered by periodically to work the phones himself, and to tell salespeople to stop gossiping. "Who's writing the check when you do that?" Mr. Cuban repeatedly snapped, Mr. Prokos recalls. "If you aren't talking to someone who can write the check, you're wasting time."


Revenue Boost


The strategy worked. A winning season and a string of sellouts helped the Mavericks boost this season's revenue to about $100 million, up from $40 million before Mr. Cuban bought the team. He says the team breaks even, before the NBA's so-called luxury tax, which will redistribute revenue from strong franchises to weaker ones and could give the Mavericks a deficit of $20 million. A bigger arena, more broadcast revenue and higher ticket prices have helped, too. Mr. Prokos is delighted, but a bit wary about what Mr. Cuban will want next.



"Working for Mark is definitely different than the friendship we used to have before," Mr. Prokos says. "When we used to run around together on the party circuit, I knew him as someone who was always pleasant and didn't swear a lot. Now I'm realizing he's a much tougher individual."


Mr. Cuban makes no apologies. "I try to put everyone in a position to succeed," he says. "But I don't believe in rewarding people for just doing their jobs." When all his ticket-sales representatives recently matched their quotas, he didn't throw a party. Instead, he says, his message was: "Good. That's what you're supposed to do." If they hadn't met quotas, he says, they would be told to look for work elsewhere.


The son of a Pittsburgh auto upholsterer, Mr. Cuban peddled powdered milk and garbage bags as a teen before graduating from Indiana University with a degree in business. He formed his own company in the 1980s, helping small businesses link their personal computers. He got his big break in 1995 when Todd Wagner, a college classmate, proposed an idea: use the Internet to allow sports fans to hear local broadcasts of their favorite team even if they live far away.


That turned into Broadcast.com Inc. As chairman of the Internet company, Mr. Cuban's gung-ho personality was perfectly suited to the times. He signed up hundreds of media outlets, when no one was sure what Internet rights were worth. He distributed a Victoria's Secret Webcast that attracted two million users. Broadcast.com's revenue never exceeded $25 million a year, yet in the go-go climate of the late 1990s, the company quickly went public and commanded a multibillion-dollar market value.


Mr. Cuban's shrewdest moves came as Internet mania was at its zenith. He and Mr. Wagner began talks with Yahoo, urging the Internet-services company to acquire Broadcast.com. "We told them: 'We're the future of the Internet. You'll either need to compete with us, or think about buying us,' " Mr. Wagner recalls.


In March 1999, Yahoo announced a $5.7 billion stock-swap acquisition of Broadcast.com, which had 330 employees and a handful of contracts but little in the way of hard assets. "It was an odd time for valuations," recalls Tim Koogle, who was then Yahoo's chief executive officer. Mr. Cuban is more blunt: "It was craziness back then. You could sneeze and say, 'Multimedia on the Net' and it would add $1 billion to your valuation."


Mr. Koogle says he believed Mr. Cuban promised to stay for years with the combined company, although there was no written agreement that he would. As the acquisition took hold, Mr. Cuban quit. In the autumn of 1999, he began to unwind his $1.7 billion stake in Yahoo.


"It had nothing to do with the company," Mr. Cuban now says. "All you had to do was look at history. In the early 1980s, you had PC companies that came public and then went bankrupt. Anyone who thought this was going to be different was smoking dope. I wasn't going to wait around for it."


Mr. Cuban says he locked in high selling prices for most of his Yahoo stock. One maneuver involved buying put options in 2000 that let him unload Yahoo much later at $183 a share. That brought an enormous windfall; today Yahoo has skidded to about $25 a share. Unable to keep quiet about his good fortune, Mr. Cuban in early 2001 told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Yahoo could go to zero tomorrow and I'm still going to have a B [for billionaire] next to my name."


Yahoo executives -- most of whom hung on to their stock in the crash and watched their fortunes erode -- were furious. That bitterness hasn't gone away. "Yahoo helped make Mark a billionaire," Mr. Koogle says. "Most human beings would have shown some sort of gratitude and some degree of class." Still, Mr. Koogle, who remains a director at Yahoo, concedes: "Mark clearly knows when to sell. If you wanted to flip, that was the time to do it."


Mr. Cuban still holds some Yahoo stock, both because he isn't done unwinding his put position, and because he bought more when it hit a low last summer of around $12 a share. He says he now holds less than one-third of his original Yahoo holdings.


Leg Room


With his Yahoo winnings, Mr. Cuban not only bought the Mavericks, he committed to upgrading the team. He hired a team masseuse and nine assistant coaches. He bought a team jet with seats so far apart that even Mr. Bradley, the 7-foot-6 center, could stretch out without bumping into the next row. "That's a tremendous luxury for me," Mr. Bradley says. "It's the kind of thing Mark has done to make this a great place to play."


In his first few months as owner, Mr. Cuban seemed awkwardly smitten with the chance to hang out with NBA stars. He challenged players to shooting contests of H-O-R-S-E at practice. He signed quarrelsome rebounder Dennis Rodman to a $500,000 contract that included free lodging on Mr. Cuban's property. Mr. Rodman lasted all of 12 games, leaving Dallas with more fouls than points.


Before long, though, Mr. Cuban found more useful people to woo. He visited top NBA agents -- the supposed evil sorcerers of contract negotiations -- and asked if he could make their jobs easier in any way.


"After our first meeting, I believed in the guy," recalls Los Angeles agent Dan Fegan. "He has such an infectious passion for the team. He's the life of the party, but he's as sharp as they come." Five of Mr. Fegan's players have now played for the Mavericks.


"We got players and agents to think about Dallas as a desired destination, instead of a last resort," Mr. Cuban says. At one point, eager to land guard Howard Eisley, Mr. Cuban engineered a four-team, 13-player deal. (The next season, when rival guard Steve Nash emerged as a star, Mr. Eisley was traded to the New York Knicks.) "Mark is a compulsive dealmaker, and I mean that as a compliment," says Washington-based agent David Falk, who counts Michael Jordan among his clients.


The team's three top players -- Mr. Nash and forwards Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley -- all are veterans who were part of the team before Mr. Cuban arrived. But Mr. Cuban and long-time coach Don Nelson have remade the rest of the team into a high-scoring, up-tempo outfit that led the NBA in offense this year.


Mr. Cuban has also fit his madcap ways into the Mavericks' brand of entertainment. Last year, he denounced NBA officials as being unable to run a Dairy Queen stand. The league fined him $500,000 -- and Dairy Queen officials challenged Mr. Cuban to work at one of their stores for a day. He accepted the offer, and attracted 14 TV camera crews.


"We asked our ad agency to calculate what that much media coverage would have cost us," says Mavericks marketing chief Matt Fitzgerald. "They figured it was worth $7 million."


This past April Fool's Day, Mr. Cuban cashed in on his image as an out-of-control fan. During a time-out, he got into an "argument" with an ersatz referee, which quickly escalated into fake punches. Coaches and players rushed on the court to stop the altercation, only to discover they had been fooled. The next day, Mr. Cuban was gleefully giving radio interviews about the prank. "Did you see?" he told one talk-show host. "We were on ESPN SportsCenter!"


In the NBA, "if you make mistakes, it's very hard to correct them," Mr. Cuban says. "In the rest of the world, you can fire someone if they aren't performing. Here, even if you cut a player from the roster, you still have to pay him." Only by immersing himself in the players' lives, he contends, can he avoid the kinds of mistakes a detached owner might make. Even after his marriage last September to 30-year-old advertising executive Tiffany Stewart, Mr. Cuban remains a regular on Mavericks road trips.


As passionate as Mr. Cuban is about basketball, it isn't his best hope of making money these days. He says he has done much better with his investments. "I was short technology and Internet stocks last year," he says with a grin, acknowledging a bet that their prices would drop. He says he also did well with junk-bond holdings and real-estate investment trusts. Most important, he continued to collect hefty gains from unwinding his Yahoo positions. While Mr. Cuban won't disclose the size of those gains, he says he's paying $111 million in income taxes. "I wouldn't be doing that unless I had big profits," he says.


For the past two years, Mr. Cuban has been trying to build up a cable-TV channel that offers only high-definition programming. He maintains it's coming along well, though revenue is tiny and expenses approach $25 million a year. Programming currently consists of "Hogan's Heroes" reruns, major-league soccer games and a lot of vacation infomercials. Still, he contends public demand for high-definition television will soar, and that his venture, HD Net, will be "perfectly positioned" for that boom.


"Mark makes a lot of comparisons between HD Net and Broadcast.com," says his former business partner, Mr. Wagner. Analysts caution, though, that it may be harder this time. Content is more expensive, distribution rights are harder to negotiate, and big cable operators are likely to take command of the high-definition market. "What Mark is doing with HD Net feels like a transition product," says John Mansell, an analyst at Kagan World Media.


Still, some media executives predict Mr. Cuban eventually will sell HD Net for a profit. "I'd expect Mark to get out twice what he put in," says Rob Glaser, founder of Real Networks Inc., a Seattle digital-media company. Mr. Cuban is coy about whether HD Net eventually will be for sale, but says that if the right partners emerge, he might sell a sizable stake in the company.


With the Mavericks in the playoffs, Mr. Cuban is packing his calendar with even the tiniest chances to promote the team. At 6 p.m. on a recent weekday, he was sitting at a card table in a Plano, Texas, Wal-Mart store, signing copies of a Dallas Mavericks comic book. Nearly 100 fans waited in line. Mr. Cuban chatted up each one briefly. When one woman told him she was 79 years old, he looked at her and said, "Twenty-nine?" When a gutter repairman said he bought season tickets this year, Mr. Cuban thrust out his hands for high fives and yelled: "You da man!"


For a billionaire, Mr. Cuban seems surprisingly at ease mingling with blue-collar America. "Why shouldn't I be?" he says. "They're all customers."
 

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the untrue part about the travel infomercials hurts :-(


too bad he doesnt have HDNet at home and he could actually see all the HD programming we have brought to the market in the past year and a half.


HDNet. More HD Programming than ANY other network :)
 

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Wow, I can't believe I read it all! Very interesting and very exciting. I wonder if his profits from other investments help with the full funding of HDNet? If so, it would make me feel better after reading about how all of this HD stuff is still a loosing business (except for maybe CBS?)


HDNet and HDNet Movies needs to be picked up by more carriers and I would not mind paying for both in some kind of tier with ESPN-HD, Discovery-HD HBO-HD Showtime-HD etc.
 

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Quote:
Programming currently consists of "Hogan's Heroes" reruns, major-league soccer games and a lot of vacation infomercials.
That does seem really slanted and unfair, and the kind of reporting one does when they have an agenda. I don't know if the reporter does have any anti-HDTV bias, but it comes off that way to me.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by juniormaj
That does seem really slanted and unfair, and the kind of reporting one does when they have an agenda. I don't know if the reporter does have any anti-HDTV bias, but it comes off that way to me.


Yeah the reporter left out the Mark Cuban show, the desert speaks and beautiful landscapes
 

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and he also left out The Winter Olympics, 100 Major League Baseball Games, 130 National Hockey League Games, Concerts, World Report News, National Lacrosse League, Bikini Destinations, Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Hawaiin Tropic Pagaents, College Football, College Basketball, College Baseball, and the fact that HDNet has broadcast MORE HD programming than anybody..


i'm biased because i work for HDNet, i think the writer just doesn't know, and he sure doesn't have the channel.


Everybody wants GREAT programming.. ok, that's obvious.


keep telling us about the programming you LIKE on HDNet and we will work to get you more of it..


:)
 

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Quote:
i think the writer just doesn't know, and he sure doesn't have the channel.
Well ya know, its just such a bother to actually research material these days. :rolleyes: .... I mean first ya gotta turn on a computer ... then you gotta type "google" or something .... nah ... its just too much trouble :D


HDC

Quote:
keep telling us about the programming you LIKE on HDNet and we will work to get you more of it..
Hours and hours of "Catwalk" :D
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by kmeisenbach
and he also left out....100 Major League Baseball Games....keep telling us about the programming you LIKE on HDNet and we will work to get you more of it.:)
Well, I LIKEd the 100 Major League Baseball Games....What happened to them?
 

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Quote:
keep telling us about the programming you LIKE on HDNet and we will work to get you more of it..


:) [/b]


More Arena Football Leage this year like last year please!
 

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You cannot post an entire copyrighted article from the WSJ here.


It exceeds fair use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I am ready for NASCAR or CART. The CART race in Canada last year was a tease.


PS, and ALL of the Mavs games next year!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by kmeisenbach
and he also left out The Winter Olympics, 100 Major League Baseball Games, 130 National Hockey League Games, Concerts, World Report News, National Lacrosse League, Bikini Destinations, Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Hawaiin Tropic Pagaents, College Football, College Basketball, College Baseball, and the fact that HDNet has broadcast MORE HD programming than anybody..


i'm biased because i work for HDNet, i think the writer just doesn't know, and he sure doesn't have the channel.


Everybody wants GREAT programming.. ok, that's obvious.


keep telling us about the programming you LIKE on HDNet and we will work to get you more of it..


:)
You forgot to mention Major Leagure Soccer :)


Keep that coming too!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by kmeisenbach

Keep telling us about the programming you LIKE on HDNet and we will work to get you more of it..
Can't get it in mid-Manhattan, but continue to hope Time Warner Cable here can cut a deal for all the HDNet channels one of these days soon.


Meanwhile, suggest creating something unique to HDNet: That's an expansion of HDNet's well-known WOW factor, from predominantly 1080 video taped at 60i, into fictional movies and other dramas also taped at 60i (60P, when feasible) instead of 24p (film or tape). Better yet, tape them only on D5/D6 formats, or Sony's new HDCAM SR format, to ensure the taped resolution extends between 1440 and ~1920 pixels. That way, as transmission channels, home HD tape, HD DVD machines, and displays that handle fully resolvable 1920X1080 become available, HDNet software buyers and other viewers can enjoy the full potential range of 1080 HD fidelity. -- John
 
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