I don’t profess to have personal knowledge of how many moguls act and think, but one I have had candid and detailed discussions with is Mark Cuban. Cuban is the rare example of someone with immense wealth and relative accessibility, and has never lost the traits of his relatively humble upbringing in western Pennsylvania while he has become one of the most recognizable billionaires on the planet, and far saner than one in particular who can’t seem to go an hour without making some sort of news.
So when Cuban makes news not once but twice in the same 24-hour news cycle, I have enough insight to know there must be some reasons why someone as methodical and balanced as he is is choosing to take action. When he sold the Broadcast.com platform he developed to Yahoo! in 1999 just as the Internet 1.0 explosion was about to go nuclear, he knew enough to take his money and run. The technology ultimately was replaced by better and more evolved options, proving him precient.
Last spring, when he incurred the wrath of NBA league owners by choosing to “tank” a chance at a play-in playoff position in the final days of the season in order to give his Dallas Mavericks better draft position and at least a crack at a lottery where Victor Wembayama was the prize, he said nothing and defended his decision as being in his best interest. He also chose to sign controversial free agent Kyrie Irving to a long-term deal, which angered so many who disagreed with his strong political and scientific viewpoints that, in theory, cost his previous employer, the Brooklyn Nets, dearly during the pandemic-inflicted seasons he was threre. So far this year, his Mavericks are one of the Western Conference’s top four teams, and Irving is among the league’s top 20 scorers. Once again, Cuban proved his nay-sayers wrong.
So yesterday, Cuban made news both in the entertainment and sports world. As his hometown CBS affiliate KDKA’s Simrin Singh reported:
Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneur Mark Cuban revealed he is planning to leave “Shark Tank” after filming one more season of the show.
Since 2011, Cuban has appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” as a permanent investor, or “shark,” hearing pitches from small business owners to invest in their companies.
“This is our 15th year. Next year, 16th year, is going to be my last year,” Cuban said last week on Showtime Basketball’s “All The Smoke” podcast, hosted by former NBA players Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes. “So one more year to go. It’s time.”
Cuban also reportedly cited his desire to spend more time with his growing children over the summer, when SHARK TANK has typically taped, as one other reason why he’s choosing to step aside. On that line of thought, I’m calling B.S.; Sony would tape the show any time of the day or night to accommodate him. No, I strongly suspect that Cuban believes that not only are the show’s best days behind it, for that matter, that may also be true of its network.
Bob AIger addressed his Disney troops at length yesterday, laying out what he perceived to be ambitious plans to revitalize and invigorate a Disney reimagined for the future. Film topper Alan Bergman noted several attempts to tie into more and more established IP, including yet another resurrection of one of the brands they overpaid FOX for, PLANET OF THE APES. ESPN’s Jimmy Pitaro gave some insights into the discussions they are having with potential streaming partners to bring that business closer to a DTC model.
Know what didn’t get a lot of discussion? ABC, both the network and its once cash cow owned-and-operated stations.
If a full order of episodes that include Cuban are merely capable of winning a Friday night time slot with a 0.3 demo rating these days, would a Cuban-less shorter order that would cost much less be capable of delivering, say, a 0.25? Might a potential new owner like Nexstar, which runs the CW and existing, less competitive stations in the majority of the ABC markets, be happy with that?
I suspect Cuban probably knew all of that, and then some. And yes, I do believe he does want to be a more on-site dad. Especially since he seems to have a new project that will require more time in Texas. Per THE ATHLETIC’s Shams Charania, Mike Vorkunov and Tim Cato:
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is selling a majority stake of the franchise to Miriam Adelson and her family for a valuation in the range of $3.5 billion, league sources say. Cuban, however, will retain shares in the team and full control of basketball operations. Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced Tuesday in a SEC filing that Adelson was selling $2 billion worth of stock in the company to put towards buying a majority stake in a sports franchise, along with her own cash. Adelson is the largest shareholder in Las Vegas Sands Corp., which was formerly owned and run by her late husband, Sheldon Adelson. She is one of the richest people in the world; Forbes named her the 35th-richest this year and the fifth-richest woman, with an estimated net worth of $32.3 billion. Las Vegas Sands Corp. had $2.8 billion in revenue in the third quarter of its fiscal year alone. Sheldon Adelson was a casino tycoon who built the Sands Casino in Las Vegas and then several other casino resorts in Singapore and Macao. He and Miriam Adelson were prominent Republican donors and contributors to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign(.)
Adelson’s skill in real estate and arena development, as well as launching casino gaming and entertainment in Dallas were appealing factors in Cuban’s sale, league sources said. He told the Dallas Morning News last year that he intended to partner with Las Vegas Sands Corp. to build a casino and resort in Dallas that would also include a place for the Mavericks. Texas does not have legalized sports betting.
Cuban likely heard or read about Pitaro gush about the potential of ESPN Bet. He knows how the NBA has willingly aligned with FanDuel and DraftKings to create prop bets out of almost every possible play in a given game. He was aggressive in being a first mover among owners in creating an ample enough Wi-Fi environment for fans in his American Airlines Arena to tap into mobile game enhancements, which in seasons like 2022-23 provided a welcome distraction from the Mavs’ mediocrity.
Cuban also has has political aspirations of his own and has never been shy about sharing them. But he’s also a realist who sees every single day in Texas exactly how far down the rabbit hole of Republican dogmatism his state’s leadership has fallen. Still, with that, comes capitalistic opportunity. Billionaires of any level of chracter seem to know that intuitively.
So perhaps aligning with someone who has the cash and connections to someone who might just be back in charge next year, just around the time Cuban completes his SHARK TANK tenure, and yet will allow him to continue to be a decision-maker and, you bet, a fan might just be a way to not only replace, but, indeed, multiply the kind of revenue that the Mavericks stand to lose when its TV partner Bally Sports goes belly up?
You think a team-owned channel, with the kind of enhanced or secondary gambling-enhanced coverage that already exists in New York with MSGSN’s simulcast of Knicks games, with a Cuban-owned casino’s brand on it, isn’t something he’s already thought about?
Sound a bit out there? Arguably. But then, you may have never brainstormed with Mark Cuban.
I don’t put anything past him. Nor would I bet against him being right.
But you can, of course. And , soon, with him getting your vig.
Until next time…