Sports leagues have ‘failed miserably’ at keeping viewers glued to their TVs, Mark Cuban says

Mark Cuban

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Cuban

A tech investor turned team owner says traditional broadcasting is still the best viewing experience for live sports coverage, shrugging off competition from streaming services.

“There are so many different elements that can impact a broadcast and your experience with it when you stream,” owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.

“But with traditional television you’ve got 99 percent reliability and it’s a better experience.”

NFL ratings drew attention this weekend, with widespread protests by players during pregame ceremonies and President Donald Trump calling for Americans to boycott the league. (Cuban also talked to CNBC about Trump’s handling of the situation.)

But professional sports ratings and TV ratings in general had been steadily declining before the presidential conflict as streaming services expand their offerings.

“Television isn’t the only way to consume content and hasn’t been for the last 20 years. That is definitely going to impact ratings,” Cuban said.

Cuban, now a billionaire investor on CNBC’s “Shark Tank,” made his first few million in computing and streaming. He founded audio streaming service Broadcast.com so he could listen into Indiana University games from outside the state.

Now Cuban says similar streaming services, like Facebook and Amazon, can’t compete.

“Watching it from a cable or satellite provider on a regular television is a better viewing experience than watching it streaming from any source on a phone, on an iPad, or even on a television because it buffers; it impacts your bandwidth to your home.”

And to stop the masses of sports fans and cord cutters from switching to streaming, Cuban said, team owners need to sell the viewing experience.

“I think the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, Major League Baseball, we all need to start advertising the fact that watching a game on television is the best viewing experience,” he said. “It’s on us to promote the fact that’s a better viewing experience. And we’ve failed miserably at that.”

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