- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 9, 2020

Not even the mighty NBA can compete these days with the Fox News Channel on television ratings, which isn’t sitting well with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

After the Daily Caller’s David Hookstead tweaked the NBA for drawing fewer viewers than Fox host Tucker Carlson’s prime-time show, calling it a “ratings massacre,” Mr. Cuban responded Saturday that the NBA outperformed Fox where it counts.

“In the advertiser coveted 18-49 demographic, our prime time outperformed Tucker in prime time by 215%,” tweeted Mr. Cuban. “He did slaughter us in the 70+ plus demographic, so have to give credit there.”

Fox may be laughing all the way to the bank. During June and July, Fox was “not just the most-watched cable news network, but the highest-rated network in all of television,” according to an Aug. 3 report in Forbes.

Fox’s average prime-time audience of 3.451 million viewers exceeded that of CBS at 3.43 million; NBA at 3.155 million, ABC at 2.69 million, and Fox Broadcasting at 1.414 million.

The return of the NBA and MLB after the novel coronavirus hiatus has yet to dent Fox’s momentum, led by primetime ratings powerhouses Carlson and Sean Hannity.

Fox topped the July 27-Aug. 2 cable field, including ESPN and TNT, which began airing live NBA and MLB games during that time.

Meanwhile, the NBA has underperformed ratings expectations, with average viewership falling 4% below pre-hiatus levels after the first full week, according to a Sunday report by Sports Media Watch.

“After nine of the first ten games averaged at least 1.3 million viewers, only three of the subsequent nine have reached that mark,” said the report.

By way of comparison, Mr. Carlson notched 3.65 million viewers for Thursday’s show.

While Fox’s ratings have soared since the advent of the virus, the NBA, which plays its final regular-season games Sunday, may have been hurt by the disruption in fans’ viewing habits.

Others speculate that the league has alienated some viewers with its visible and outspoken Black Lives Matter support, driven by the protest over the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Players wearing “Black Lives Matter” jerseys kneeled during the national anthem after the July 30 restart, and the Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where the games are being played, has “Black Lives Matter” painted on the basketball court.

“The NBA is struggling in a big way with their audience right now,” said Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis, who runs the Outkick the Coverage website, adding, “I think the vast majority of sports fans have no interest whatsoever in social-justice warrior-dom, or politics being mixed with sports.”

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