Mark Cuban and AudioNet

The following is an excerpt from Learfield and the Internet: 1995-2005

In September of 1995 we received a phone call from Mark Cuban. He and a partner (Todd Wagner) had recently acquired a company called Cameron Audio Networks, named after its founder Cameron Christopher Jaeb. The company had acquired rights to broadcast radio and professional sports games live on the Internet. Cuban wanted to listen to the basketball games of his alma mater, Indiana University. Learfield owned the media rights to IU (and eight other universities and colleges). Cuban renamed his company AudioNet.

From the AudioNet media kit, October 1995:

“AudioNet is one of the most popular destinations on the Internet. People around the world know that when they want their choice of realtime and on demand audio programming there is only one place to go, WWW.Audionet.Com, the world’s first Broadcast Network on the Internet!”

“We offer them realtime broadcasts of radio stations such as KLIF Dallas, KFI Los Angeles, KOA Denver, XTRA San Diego, WQAM Miami, WJFK Washington DC WCKY Cincinnati, with many more to come. The there is the realtime broadcasts of exciting sporting events such as Texas A&M, University of Southern California, Baylor, Southern Methodist University college football, a growing schedule of professional football, baseball, basketball ad hockey, and Indoor Soccer.”

“In addition to sports programming we offer a complete choice of entertaining programming (you) can’t get anywhere else, like the Janice Malone Show, The Mark Cuban Show, Jeffrey Lyons Movie Reviews and Hollywood Reports, Medical Matters, Tech Talk, NetRadio, Geek Free Radio, Legal Matters, NetRadio, Celebrity Interviews with Michelle Pfeiffer, Patrick Swayze, Dustin Hoffman, George Foreman, Gennifer Flowers and much more. What’s even more exciting is that AudioNet is doubling (its) content offerings every month, with new things being added every day. Listeners know to stop by and see what’s new, and they do!”

On November 10, 1995, we met with Mark in Kansas City to discuss how our two companies might work together. It was Clyde, Allen Hammock, Steve Mays and (maybe) Chief Engineer Charlie Peters.

Since Learfield owned the broadcast rights, we couldn’t see the value of what AudioNet brought to the table. At one point Mark walked over to the whiteboard and scrawled some numbers, offering to sell 10% of his new company to Learfield for half a million dollars (others recall the number as one million). Learfield didn’t have the money at the time and really couldn’t see the value of AudioNet in any event. (Cuban sold his company to Yahoo! on April 1, 1999 for $5.7 billion, making it the most expensive acquisition Yahoo! had made at the time.)

In December, 1995, Learfield and AudioNet signed a letter of agreement for Internet distribution of our live college sports programming. AudioNet provided a minimum of 10,000 RealAudio streams while Learfield provided audio of our football and basketball broadcasts. We were also responsible for development of all content for the websites. Any advertising sold by Learfield, the split was 80/20 (80% to Learfield). If AudioNet sold the ads, the split was 60/40 (60% to Learfield). The term of the agreement was two years.

At some point during our talks with Mark, someone at Learfield asked why we couldn’t just do this on our own. Why did we need AudioNet? I recall Mark explaining he had an arrangement with RealAudio for streaming licenses that no other company could get. That was his edge.

“Mobile is going to crush Facebook”

“The logic for Facebook’s price decline is that they have a problem in mobile. They can’t offer all the games they can in a browser. They can’t offer the same ads or branding opportunities. All true,” he writes. “If you think mobile will displace online usage from PCs then you should immediately short Google and other ad plays and buy TV stations and networks. If you can’t buy an ad effectively on mobile and no one is using a PC to connect to the internet any more, then the only way to reach an audience is going to be via good old tv. And all that over the top video noise, forgettabout it.”

Mark Cuban on Facebook

Mark Cuban on cursing

“I like to curse. I like to curse because I enjoy how it gets everyone in an uproar. I won’t curse in an environment where I have accepted an invitation or am a guest of someone else. I will play by their rules. But if you come on my home turf and want something from me. It’s my rules.”

— Mark Cuban

Yes. Yes, indeed. And smays.com is my turf so you should expect to see a profanity or an obscenity from time to time. Please reference this post.

Mark Cuban: “Blogging is personal, traditional media is corporate.”

“Traditional media has become almost exclusively corporate while blogging remains almost exclusively personal. (People in traditional media) get hired for a specific job and they have to do that job. They get hired by a corporation that is most likely public, which means their senior management , the people they ultimately report to, have to put getting the stock price up above all else. That is really what blogging vs traditional media in 2006 has come down to. Bloggers drive blogs, share price drives traditional media. Blogging is personal, traditional media is corporate.

Which is exactly why blog readership is going up, while traditional media is consolidating, if not contracting. Traditional media goes to work, bloggers live their work.”

I encourage you to read Mr. Cuban’s full post. Say what you will, Mark Cuban has always been about five minutes ahead on the old “Information Highway.” And he understands blogging as only a blogger can. [via Scripting.com]

Mark Cuban getting show on Sirius

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is getting his own two-hour weekly show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Cuban says he’s “going to cover everything and anything, from sprots to business to technology, movies and entertainment.” This just seems so much more interesting than David Lee Roth or Bob Dylan, for that matter. But not enough to make me switch. One of your Sirius subscribers could aircheck and send me an MP3 file. If you loved me. Wonder what sort of format they’ll use? [Ft. Worth Star-Telegram via RAIN]

Mark Cuban says bring back live commercials

Dallas Mavricks owner Mark Cuban says bring back the live commercial so neither the viewer (nor the advertiser) will know what to expect until it happens. Calling them Reality Commercials, Cuban claims implementing such a thing would not be a technical challenge or a creative one but it would entail a whole lot more work. I don’t watch TV ads now but I just might watch a few if they were live. Could we make this work in our network newscasts? Doubtful. Our clients probably woudn’t like it. Our sales reps wouldn’t like it. Our anchors wouldn’t like it. But our listeners might. [via AdRants]

Mark Cuban on NY Times story

After writing the previous post, I popped over to Mark Cuban’s blog and read a very interesting (and lengthy) post about an article in the New York Times. I haven’t been following the story but that’s not what I found interesting.

Cuban published the complete email exchange upon which the NYT article was based –with link to the article– and invites his readers to decide if the Times piece is a fair representation of what Cuban said/wrote.

In the good old days, we would have read the Times story and assumed (because it’s the New York Times, after all) it was 100% accurate. If we happened to know Mark Cuban we could ask him if it was but today the entire world can decide if the story was fair and accurate.

If all my reporter buddies can’t see why this is a big deal… well, I can’t explain it to them. This is what they mean when they talk about the web becoming a “conversation.”

Ten years of streaming

Finally got around to going through the last box of files that came along with the recent office move. Found a file with notes and correspondence with Mark Cuban (PDF) (November and December, 1995). Cuban was cutting lots of content deals back in those days and he was hot to stream our football and basketball broadcasts. Almost nobody knew what streaming was and it was damned hard to imagine that anyone would ever listen to “the radio” on their computers. His company was called AudioNet back then and became Broadcast.com before he sold to Yahoo! How could that have been 10 years ago? And what will this all look like 10 years from now?

Update: First contact from Cuban was on September 9, 1995.

Billable hours.

Mark Cuban says “the MGM Grokster decision won’t help the content business make more money. It wont help artists make more money. This deal gave something to both sides, but it gave the most to lawyers and lobbyists.” [via Scripting News]