If you're furious about the cost of cable TV, and you don't watch sports, just close this window and walk away. Seriously, don't even read another paragraph. It'll just make you too angry.
Still there? Okay, so here's where we left things last time we discussed the economics of sports and television.
In a sentence: Television economics are sports economics, and sports economics are television economics. Sports accounts for half of the programming costs of TV, and TV accounts for more than half the revenue of many professional sports leagues. Without television, professional sports could scarcely exist. Without sports, the TV cable bundle -- and the golden age of television that it's ushered into existence -- might unravel entirely.
Your cable bill -- $80 or $90, or whatever it is -- is best understood as two prices. The programming (i.e. the channels you watch) and the distribution (i.e. the infrastructure and profits for the cable companies). Every time you pay a cable bill, the channels collect a small fee. It's called an "affiliate fee." The most in-demand channels tend to negotiate the highest fees. And those tend to be sports channels. Take a look.
There's no great mystery here. Sports are expensive because they are valuable. And sports are valuable because they attract a larger live audience than average prime-time shows. That's the big picture. A 2013 report from RBC, "Moneyball: The Current State Of The Sports Media Landscape," sharpens the image.