“If You Think The Internet Is Going to Replace Cable, You’re Crazy” Mark Cuban, HDNet

Cuban Ronen

What is the future of television, and how can anyone make money in the business of internet TV? Mark Cuban, founder of Broadcast.com and HDNet, and Avner Ronen, founder of Boxee, took a heated debate that began online to the stage yesterday at SXSW.

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It is pretty clear that their business philosophies are intrinsically different. Mark Cuban is a successful entrepreneur turned investor, and he’s all about making money. Avner Ronen would like to make money, too – eventually. His start up, Boxee, is one of several new online entertainment products trying to be the new television network, studio, and distribution platform. Though innovative, Boxee is not yet profitable.

Their disagreement is over how quickly the Internet will become the primary method for high-definition video delivery. Cuban believes that television, as it is now, will never go away. His points are well made; the technology to deliver high quality content isn’t here yet, and such disruption would require the public to change their behavior.

“If you think the Internet is going to replace cable, you’re crazy,” Cuban said.

For the audience as SXSW, this is a foreign concept: what do you mean, there are people who don’t watch Hulu? Everyone in this crowd streams, downloads and believes the Internet is the solution to just about every problem there is. But, what is the business model? Not one that could totally change the broadcast television and cable ecosystem.

When the conversation turned to the audience, many people just wanted to complain about their cable providers. One audience member said, “I dropped my cable and moved to watching everything online, because I don’t want to be screwed by the man.”

“The man’s always going to screw you, dude,” Mark Cuban responded.

But the SXSW crowd wants a revolution, and they see companies like Boxee as leading the charge.

This post was authored by Kirsten Cluthe – thanks for letting me borrow your MT account, Joe!