How Much You're Paying for Sports You Don't Watch, Per Sport

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We are currently at one of the two great annual inflection points of professional sports in America: Baseball and the Final Four are upon us, and the NBA and NHL postseasons are heating up with the Spring, even if football is months away. But no matter how much you're enjoying the singular benefits of your favorite sport, America's sports-padded cable TV packages are still forcing you to subsidize football — even in April.

So maybe you're a big hockey fan and you figure it's not such a big deal that all this sports programming makes up such a huge chunk of your monthly bill. You still get to watch your NHL playoffs. What if we told you watching the NHL on cable only cost $2 per year?

Or maybe you're just getting back into baseball again. What if we told told you that you could get all the baseball you wanted, for $12.13 per year based on the average $90 per month cable bill? Now what if we told you one-sport or two-sport fans that you were all still paying $76 per year... just for the NFL?

According to breakouts of calculations done by Derek Thompson over at The Atlantic today, that's the new reality of how all those mega-sports licensing deals weigh down your cable bill... by sport. Is your bank account ready for some football yet? Because none of these numbers even include regional sports network deals, which add up to another $32 per year, per person. For avid football fans or addicted fans of all the major sports, that's not such a bad price to pay. But for all the people who got cable just for one season of one sport, you're basically subsidizing football — and, per Thompson's theory, "a Golden Age of Television," as you can see in the chart below of how much each sport is costing you. (The total comes out to about $202 per year for all the major sports leagues.) 

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The dollar figures above are from the following logic: Sports take up 50 percent of all programming costs you pay to cable, according to a February study by RBC Capital. "Programming costs," however, only make up around 37.5 percent of a total bill, or so. The rest goes to overhead and billing and all that other stuff. To get the numbers above, I took those two pieces of information (from Thompson) and calculated them using data from the following pie chart:

Of course, all of these rates vary based on the cable company, package, and even region. New York City cable subscribers, for example, have it particularly bad. They pay more than $10 per month ($120 per year) just for regional sports networks for the Yankees and Mets and others, on top of all the other sports stuff. The RBC report, however, assures that this is the "vast exception" and not the rule.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.