The SportsCenter set.

Discussing how much cable operators pay for certain channels can make for a good insomnia cure, but in some cases, especially the one we’re about to present here, they’re enough to make you stand up and take notice.

It’s been well-documented how ESPN has become the most expensive cable network costing operators over $6 per subscriber each month. Why is ESPN so expensive? It’s due to paying hefty sports rights fees to the NFL for Monday Night Football (an estimated $2 billion annually), MLB ($700 million annually), College Football Playoff ($470 million per year), various college conferences, Wimbledon, the Open Championship and there’s the NBA which it will reportedly pay $1.4 billion per season when its new contract begins in 2016.

ESPN has to pass that cost along to someone so the network passes it to the cable and satellite providers who in turn have to pass those increases to you the paying customer.

It’s projected that with the increased rights fee, ESPN will cost even more in the next few years according to the Wall Street Journal:

“The wholesale cost per network is expected to increase 36% by 2018 according to media-research firm SNL Kagan estimates. Cable providers currently pay a total of $28.32 for a few dozen channels, depending on the provider and the cable package, with ESPN taking over $6 of that. Meanwhile median price paid for each channel a subscriber gets is 14 cents. ESPN is estimated to cost $8.37 per month in 2018, an increase of 39%.”

Luckily, your cable bill won’t rise as much, but providers will always find ways to stick it to you the paying customer through cable/phone/internet bundles and various equipment charges.

So as fees increase, so will your costs. As long as you pay for television, there’s no turning back. Your bill won’t get lower. But if you cut the cord, you lose access to ESPN and the sports you like to watch with most streaming outlets requiring a cable or satellite subscription. It’s a double-edged sword.

[Wall Street Journal]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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