Dallas is one of many current NBA markets in which it’s very difficult to watch games via non-traditional television providers.
That’s become a big problem for the NBA, as younger members of the league’s audience move to streaming television services like YouTube TV (or cut the cord altogether), so much so that recently news broke that the NBA was in talks with MLB on a potential in-house, in-market streaming service partnership.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban, though, reportedly has his own plan. According to Callie Caplan at The Dallas Morning News, Cuban is considering a subsidy program that would make it easier for fans to watch games locally. (Mavs fans outside the home market area have the ability to purchase a one-team League Pass package.)
Cuban is working on a program that would offer Mavericks fans a $50 credit each month of the season toward DirecTV Stream to reduce the cost of the only streaming platform that offers Bally Sports Southwest, he told The Dallas Morning News.The Mavericks’ owner is still working on details, but he said the franchise would first offer season-ticket holders the opportunity and then expand sign-ups to the first 10,000 fans total.
The team’s broadcasting limitations aren’t unique to regional sports networks across the NBA, but they’ve drawn the ire of fans left without widespread access to Mavericks games since the 2019-20 season.
It makes sense that Cuban would be one of the first owners to consider a move like this, but the approach itself is questionable in terms of the impact it could make. First, it’s limited in scope, offered to at most something like 10,000 people. Those 10,000 would be required to switch their cable/satellite/streaming package to DirecTV Stream, too, which is likely a non-starter for many. (Though if you’re a Mavs fan who already subscribes to DirecTV Stream, this is likely something you’ll want to try and take advantage of!)
The overall impact, though, might be more as a way to call attention to the issue at hand, while offering some die-hards at least a possible way to make it work legally. The Sinclair-owned, Bally Sports-branded group of regional sports networks have struggled to find distribution on non-linear platforms, leaving a lot of fans across multiple sports without a real legitimate option. (And then there are situations like Denver, where the Nuggets distribution issues have been dragging for a long time now.)
Leagues clearly want the widest distribution for their product, and owners like Cuban understand that being tied to a linear distribution model is very much not how to appeal to new and younger audiences. His DirecTV Stream subsidy idea might not solve things entirely, but it will almost certainly call further attention to an untenable situation.