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Media's Tomorrow Begins Today

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The future is big, bright, and blogged about.

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Watching TV on a PC is so last century. The future of media is all about size, according to Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban, who is also chairman of HDnet.

He's talking screen size.

As Cuban sees it, the obsession with PCs and the small screens of handheld devices is looking at things all wrong. He foresees a future of media where people watch content, including YouTube (GOOG), on oversized public TVs and even pay for the privilege to do so with their friends.

Cuban's inspiration was last weekend's Cowboys-Giants game, the one where the Giants pulled it off at the very last moment. But everyone was talking about the new stadium's seven-story tall screen from Mitsubishi Electric, he says.

"That screen (the one in the new Cowboys stadium), you can't take your eyes off it," Cuban said. Just as we've watched screens get smaller, faster, and cheaper, soon we'll be seeing bigger, better, and cheaper, he predicts.

"Ten years ago, streaming didn't work. Now it's ubiquitous," he reminded the crowd at an Advertising Week forum about the future of media. "What's premium today will be ubiquitous tomorrow."

Cuban was just one of 10 really good minds assembled for the panel, which was led by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine.

Along with Cuban was Judy McGrath, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks (VIA), whose company is fresh off its own viral sensation. Viewership of the September 13 Video Music Awards was up 17% over the previous year. The show's audience grew while it was in progress as real-time tweeters and bloggers reported on Kanye West's crashing of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Vocal.

The event continued to gain momentum all week, garnering additional mileage when President Obama called West a "jackass" in off-the-record remarks tweeted by an ABC News employee. West later went on The Jay Leno Show to apologize.

While McGrath acknowledged that MTV didn't directly monetize the media bonanza, the partnerships created with Twitter and Facebook to integrate the social networks into the show coverage helped propel it into the cultural dialogue of the country.

"Everybody was talking about MTV, even the president," she says, noting sponsors Pepsi (PEP) and Taco Bell (YUM) were very happy.

All MTV content is now created in multiple pieces so it can be most effective on whichever platform a viewer is using.

While old-timers on the panel like design guru Milton Glaser, a founder of New York magazine, bemoaned a tearing down of the wall separating advertising from editorial, McGrath said MTV is lucky.

Teens and Generation Y are the most marketed to generations and recognize when they're being marketed to -- and accept it.

The challenge, in a nutshell, noted Wired's Anderson: "The ability to gain attention is growing faster than the ability to monetize it."
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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