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Volume 24 No. 158
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Mark Cuban Talks About HDNet, Media Rights Deals

Mavericks Owner and HDNet Founder Mark Cuban is “trying to make a winner out of HDNet, one of the few independent cable networks around,” according to a cover story by Umstead & Robichaux of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. Cuban is “putting stock in live-event programming, ranging from concerts featuring such groups as rock bands New Found Glory and Widespread Panic to hard-punching mixed martial arts events.” Cuban sat for an extensive Q&A, an excerpt of which can be found here.

Q: You’re now airing mixed martial arts fights -- are you betting on this growing bigger?
Cuban: Yeah, it’s the fastest growing sport among men. I just love it. I mean you see it in fashion, not so much in New York but in middle America, you see it everywhere, the Tom Hardy stuff, the TapouT stuff, all that kind of stuff. It’s huge. And you see it in the UFC buys.

Q: Are you concerned at all about the image? 
Cuban: Oh no, because it’s so mainstream right now. Boxing has got bigger image problems.

Q: What do you think of the UFC-Fox deal? Does that help you? 
Cuban: Yeah, it helps us because there are very, very few live fights. They might put one or two a year on, at most, and anything that builds popularity of mixed martial arts is good for us.

Q: The Lakers are now going to have a new channel. Do you ever consider one for the Mavericks? 
Cuban: Yeah of course, when my deal is up. Absolutely. I think Time Warner (Cable) is kind of our incumbent (in the Dallas area) and HD Net is not on Time Warner. So will I package the two to get one? Absolutely. 

Q: Has the cost of sports networks gone too high for consumers’ cable bills? 
Cuban: I don’t think it’s the cost of sports that’s the issue. It’s providers having to take networks that are just placeholders. 

Q: As the economy goes down and prices go up, do you think a la carte pricing of channels is coming?
Cuban: I don’t think a la carte is going to happen simply because it’s too hard to market. If every network sold a la carte, then you’ve got the issue of taking orders, changing packages. And it’s gonna get a lot more expensive real quick and, in essence, that’s gonna drive people to the Internet faster. You’re gonna drive piracy through the roof. And then nobody makes money. 

Q: What about sports tiers? 
Cuban: It’ll save something, but it will cost other people a lot of money. In fact, if you’re a big TV watcher, it would cost you a lot more money (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 10/10 issue).