Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

Where really is my money going? An investigative look at the cost of cable.

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In the article, “Made about the cost of TV? Blame Sports” written by Derek Thompson in 2013, delves into to an issue affecting those whom are paying for cable television programming. The Journal article takes a comical spin in an effort to inform the audience that the reason behind paying for the high cost of cable, is largely due to the fact that sports programs and companies are to be blamed. Thompson further elaborates this statement by bringing out the logistics of the matter. Essentially, if the average bill costs 80-90 dollars the payer will pay for the programming and the distribution of television.  Channels then collect affiliate fees, and the most in-demand channels tend to negotiate the highest fees. Oddly enough, ESPN collects a one of the highest monthly cost at $5.13 as seen from a graph from the LA Times. MTV charges $0.39 for contrasting purposes.

Thompson goes on to state that the rational for this high affiliation process for sport is so high because of the values sports have and bring. The biggest draw, or rather sport for this charging process, is the NFL. In 2002, NFL games averaged about 15 million viewers and broadcast prime time shows averaged 10 million. NFL also accounts for 30 percent of advertising and 36 percent of sports rights in 2012. Thompson then goes on to say, that if the average cable bill per month, $76 dollars a year essentially goes straight onto the NFL. So even if a viewer doesn’t watch sports, you are still paying for others who do in an annual subsidy. Thompson also reminds us that 28 percent of Disney’s earnings and 23 percent of News Corps cable earnings come from sport channels (ABC and FX). Thompson ends the piece by informing that sports keeps the cable bundle together, and the bundles are powering the media companies through TV entertainment.

Here is a quick summary video about the power monopolies have over television:

The article brings about some interesting undertones that don’t really appear at first glance.  It is evident of the power that media has over distribution of information as seen from this article, but it also informs the reader that this bias formulates perceptions of the viewer. Basically, whomever has the highest dollar gets their name out there the most. This presents a double-edged sword for the Sport, Recreation, and Leisure fields as the sporting world gets recognition to reach millions of people, but on the other hand whose interests are actually benefiting. Given that the NFL and other popular organizations occupy most time, it becomes nearly impossible for other organizations to get an adequate piece of the pie.  Consider the broadcasting of the CFL and the NFL. .Because viewership does not come nowhere next to the NFL’s, the league and players make significantly less (Even in the case of the NLL). This article goes to show that a pseudo sovereignty exists in the cable world, where we may have access to huge volumes of channels but the bulk of our bill is filled up for sports and only a few limited are broadcasted or what is deemed as “high viewership.” One might say that in the era of infinite television channels, realistically we are offered and evidently paying for cable as we lived back in the three-channel era.

The relevance to sport and kinesiology is the effect of media and distributing professional sports to the world. From here, we can speculate the effects of what shows are being broadcasted and how many non-elite play the sport. It also speaks to the effect of capitalistic mentalities in the shaping of perceptions on what sport or activity constitutes. Whose interests are really being looked at if each person is forced to spend so much on sports per year in the cable bill!


Thompson, D. (2013). Mad About the Cost of TV? Blame SportsThe Atlantic. Retrieved 3 October 2016, from

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