Online Video is Irrelevant

The headline is a quote by Mark Cuban, who is very rich. The full quote, as captured by Adam Kleinberg in last week’s Videonomics event in Dallas Cowboys stadium, is: “Online video is irrelevant. The top videos most days on YouTube get 250-750k views. If you got that kind of traffic on TV, you’d be a huge failure.” 

Before I comment on Mark’s thoughts, I gotta say… I love Adam’s post for three reasons:

  1. He references me before Mark Cuban.
  2. He captured the quote I was too lazy to write down.
  3. Adam let me kiss him on the head, and he’s like a human teddy bear. I told him I almost want to go back to a big company just to hire his agency, Tractionco.com. If you know anyone from Studio Lambert, tell them to get Traction Co on The Pitch (AMC) NOW.

I did get a photo of Mark Cuban and me, but nobody seems to care as much as I might have thought. Only 5% of the people I know seem to recognize him, and only 14% of that segment seem mildly impressed that I arm wrestled him. Some were more impressed that he’s on Shark Tank than the fact that he sold Broadcast.com for 55 billion.

Mark Cuban arm wrestling me

And now to the point (you buried your lead again, Nalts): Mark Cuban’s point was that the view count of “YouTube’s most viewed videos of the day” pales against television-show viewership. He’s got two reasons, the first is that YouTube most-viewed daily videos sometimes don’t often more than a few hundred thousand views. Second, the views are brief relative to viewing durations of Shark Tank, which Mark says is the show most watched by entire families. Mark appears on that show.

What Mark didn’t point out is that the most-viewed YouTubers (top 50-100) typically have daily views that exceed top television shows. Annoying Orange or Ray William Johnson get 10x the daily views of many network shows. They are, in effect, small networks. Sure the views are minutes not 30 or 60 minutes. And they’re less monatized. Furthermore, here’s another little secret for Mark. Sometimes a creator’s “daily views” are not, in fact, driven by their most recent video — a creator’s daily views are often driven by the cumulative views of the creator’s collection. (For instance, my recent videos tend to be viewed a mere fraction of the total daily views I have; the latter number is driven by a few older videos, like “Scary Maze” or “I Are Cute Kitten,” that continue to accumulate views).

During last week’s Videonomics event, Mark invited people to challenge him, but I declined because… this is all a moot point. Why? For starters, advertisers want eyeballs, and they don’t generally care if they bought 100 ads on 100 YouTube videos or 5 ads on 5 television shows.

They want targeted reach with spending efficiency.

Period. Advertisers also need scale, and if media fragments so too will their media spend. Most studies show that online-video advertising growth will come at the expense of television advertising in years ahead… but eventually these budgets won’t be separate. That brings me to my second point… in the next 4-8 years we won’t really discern between online video, cable TV, mobile and television. It’ll all be video, and the long and short tail will both matter to advertisers.

(Whether Mark Cuban says so or not).

P.S. I let him win in arm wrestling.