Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No balls No babies - The Mark Cuban take

Billionaire businessman and maverick Mark Cuban recently spoke out in favour of NBC on the recent Conan, Jay debacle. It's interesting that he chose to dive in on this topic but his overall message is, take chances if you want to lead and build.

Here is a passage from Mark Cuban's blog.

Why are we condemning Jeff Zucker & NBC over Leno ?

Jan 18th 2010 4:11PM

If you want to know why its going to take longer than people hope or expect to get out this great recession, look no further than media and corporate response to Jeff Zuckers move of Jay Leno to primetime.

What Zucker and NBC did was the EXACT RIGHT MOVE.

Business environments change. When they do, as broadcast network television has, and continues to, there are two basic choices. You can do it the way it’s always been done, or you can challenge yourself to change the game.

In the case of NBC, Jeff Zucker chose to take a risk and move Jay Leno from late night television to primetime. The upside was HUGE. Rather than risking tens of millions of dollars each season on pilots that never make it on air, and then watching those that do get aired fail far more often than they succeed, Leno in primetime could change the economics of primetime TV dramatically for the better.

Leno’s show would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour instead of 2mm, 3mm or more per hour. A game changer. It was equivalent to CBS putting a reality show in primetime. Survivor worked. It changed the economics and ratings landscape of TV forever. A successful Leno show would do the same thing,.

But what if Leno to primetime failed ? What was the downside ?

The downside was that NBC could go back to business as usual. They could cancel and move Leno, just as they have done. Then they could go back to the old school way of lots of pilots, build a primetime schedule, and then pray some of the shows work. Rinse and repeat.

Going forward they will program the 10pm slot. They will get some hits, some misses. It will be expensive, but in a few years they will find a hit and recapture the viewers they lost. Just as every network has done in response to a down period. In a few years the Leno experiment will be nothing more than a memory. A big so what.

Thats what happens when ideas fail. They fade into memory and hopefully something is learned.

But there is a bigger message in all of this.

What I have learned from watching all of this is that corporate America has been neutered. No one has any balls anymore.

I have a saying, “No Balls, No Babies”. It was told to me by a blackjack dealer when I asked if I should double down on an 11. The message was simple. If you dont take the risks, you dont get the rewards.

Well that used to be the case. Its not anymore.

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