Keep your eye on the real target, Mark Cuban told Congress on Wednesday.
Testifying before a Senate subcommittee, the internet investor, Dallas Mavericks owner and star of ABC's Shark Tank said AT&T's (T - Get Report) proposed acquisition of Time Warner (TWX) is small potatoes with the rise of Facebook (FB - Get Report) and Google (GOOGL - Get Report) .
Television, he said, is no longer the primary medium for news and entertainment; instead, he argued, it's the internet. And the internet is dominated by technology companies, not AT&T or Time Warner.
"TV is experiencing a declining share of content consumption," Cuban said before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy & Consumer Rights. "It is losing viewers to the other dominant content players in Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) , Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) with Prime, Twitch, Apple (AAPL - Get Report) with Music, and finally Google with YouTube."
Cuban argued that AT&T buying Time Warner would create a stronger competitor to Facebook and Google, which receive about two-thirds of all U.S. digital advertising. A combined company would be able to build an internet presence that might offer seekers of entertainment and news as well as advertisers a viable alternative.
"This merger is not only one of survival and opportunity, but one that is needed by consumers," he said. "We need more companies that have the ability to compete with Apple, Google, Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) , Amazon and Facebook."
Rather than framing the merger as a combination of two dominant media conglomerates, Cuban sought to paint a picture of an industry whose biggest players are legacy technology companies that increasingly are getting into the content business. Amazon, though its Prime service, is spending billions on original content, licensing more programming from Disney (DIS - Get Report) , Time Warner and others.
In recent days, Time Warner executives Jeff Bewkes and John Martin have hinted that Amazon and Apple could launch the same kind of multichannel streaming service that AT&T started a week ago with DirecTV Now. Disney, like most major media companies, is a client of AT&T's DirecTV Now.
"Alone, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for either AT&T or Time Warner to compete with any of the companies I've mentioned," Cuban said. "Together it will be still be difficult, but a combined entity at least gives them a chance to battle the dominant players in the marketplace and increase consumer choice and competition for consumer attention."