Mark Cuban has fired the first shot in the coming robot wars in sports journalism.
At least he thinks he has.
The Dallas Mavericks owner on Tuesday revealed his reasons for revoking media credentials from Marc Stein and Tim MacMahon, two ESPN reporters who cover his team. Cuban told The Associated Press that ESPN isn’t covering the Mavericks deeply enough to stem what he sees as the coming tide of automated game coverage.
The AP has partnered with Automated Insights to produce automated stories on minor league baseball games. Cuban belives the trend will come to the NBA soon, and ESPN’s decision to scale back coverage of 19 NBA teams and increase its reliance on wire services prompted him to take action.
“Maybe I will be wrong but I see a direct path from the trends in coverage of games we are seeing over the last couple years to the automation of reporting on games and the curation of related content,” Cuban told The AP via email. “This isn’t a knock on wire services or their reporters. They are valued and valuable in sports coverage.
“While it may seem counterintuitive to ban someone from covering us as a way of stopping automation, it really was my only option. As is evident by the AP partnership with Automated Insights, it’s not if but when.”
The all-or-nothing approach Cuban demands from media outlets covering his team should put science fiction and sports fans on high alert. The robots are coming to tell you what happened.
And Cuban is simply sounding the alarm, albeit at the expense of two seasoned, Dallas-based professionals who were only trying to do their changing jobs.
Thumbnail photo via Derik Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images