Major sports leagues earn BILLIONS of dollars every year. That money comes directly from YOUR cable bill.

About That Highest-Paid Public Employee Graphic…

You might have seen this infographic on Deadspin yesterday:

Highest-Paid Public Employees

 

This graphic will attract all sorts of outrage and hand-wringing about how our priorities are all out of whack. You might be sitting there and shaking your head yourself about it. That’s why I’m going to remind you of something very important:

We paid for this.

What you’re seeing here is cable and satellite TV money at work. We pay the TV carriers, the carriers pay the TV networks, the networks pay the conferences, the conferences pay the schools, and the schools pay the coaches. We paid for this graphic with our money. So we must have wanted it to be this way, right?

Just as a reminder, here’s how much college conferences will receive from networks during the next academic year from televised sports — almost entirely football and basketball:

League
Network
2013-14 Payment
ACC
ESPN
$240 million
American Athletic
ESPN
$18 million
Big East
Fox Sports
$41.6 million
Big Ten
Big Ten Network
$112 million
Big Ten
CBS
$72 million
Big Ten
ESPN
$100 million
Big Ten
Fox Sports
$24 million
Big 12
ESPN
$110 million
Big 12
Fox Sports
$90 million
Conference USA
CBS
$7 million
Conference USA
Fox Sports
$7 million
Mountain West
CBS
$12 million
Mountain West
ESPN
$6 million
Pac-12
ESPN
$125 million
Pac-12
Fox Sports
$125 million
SEC
CBS
$55 million
SEC
ESPN
$150 million

That money goes from the conferences to the schools, and it eventually pays the coaches, who bring prestige — if not more money — to the schools by winning games. (That money does not go to the players, except in the form of “scholarships”. As this Drake Group report shows, the NCAA has twisted amateurism quite a bit to make sure players don’t receive any actual money for the work they put in.)

On top of this, ESPN will pay about $610 million next season to air the new College Football Playoff and the bowl games that surround it, while CBS and Turner will pay the NCAA another $771 million next season to broadcast the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

ESPN and ESPN2 alone reach an estimated 100 million homes, and starting next August, ESPN will collect more than $6/month from every subscriber for just those two channels. That’s at least $7.2 billion in revenue from cable subscribers alone. More than $1.4 billion of that will go toward college sports next year — everything you see above, plus another $42 million paid to the NCAA for the rights to show things like the NIT, the College World Series, the Women’s Basketball Championship, and other “non-revenue” sports.

Do all 100 million people in the U.S. who pay for ESPN and ESPN2 watch those channels? Probably not.

Fox Sports 1, which launches in August, will be in an estimated 90 million homes. Again, not all 90 million people who get that channel will watch it, but they’ll pay just under a dollar per month for it all the same.

The big conferences are also creating their own networks to collect some of this money. You might be paying for some of those channels, too.

Pay TV is a numbers game, and thanks to media consolidation, the numbers generally work out in favor of the big media companies. Those companies all have something that people want to watch, but if you want access to that something, you have to pay for everything. That’s how ESPN has grown into the behemoth it is now. People who only get cable for better reception or for The Daily ShowThe Walking Dead, and other shows, still pay ESPN $70 a year out of their cable bills. All that money eventually gets funneled to all the football and basketball coaches represented in that graphic above.

Want to do something to change that graphic? Cut the cord. Dump your dish. Still want something to watch? Buy an antenna.icon Buy a Roku boxicon or an Apple TV.icon Get a Netflix account and an Amazon Prime account. Find some YouTube channels worth watching. Cutting the cord is the only way to slow down the amount of money flowing into college football and basketball. Otherwise, you’re just feeding the beast.

Are you game?

4 Responses to About That Highest-Paid Public Employee Graphic…

  1. I’m ok with a la carte pricing not making everything drastically more expensive, so I’m fine, thanks.

  2. [...] Where you come in regarding that “highest paid public employees” graph. [...]

  3. Len Cohen says:

    Arizona Senator John McCain has been on the record for quite a while that he things the forced bundling of cable packages is anti-competitive.

    Last week he again threatened to introduce legislation to stop this practice. Interested citizens should contact their own state’s Senators and their own congressional district’s Representatives to persuade them to vote for McCain’s bill when it’s introduced.

    Only good things can come from this pro-consumer change. Starting with a vastly reduced cable bill, but continuing on through to the draining of the swamp of collegiate athletics that is funded by money that has very little accountability.

    • Dave Warner says:

      I’ve read about McCain’s legislation, and I have a hard time believing it’s anything more than a bit of political grandstanding. It’s certainly not going to get very far in Congress, where Big Media has a lot of politicians under their thumb. (Witness the deplorable exchange last week between Mel Watt and Eric Holder that attempted to link “illegal downloading” to terrorism.)

      Cablevision v. Viacom might end up doing more for cable customers than McCain ever could, and neither will shrink the size of the bill all that much. The number of channels might shrink a lot more, but I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. There’s too much unnecessary programming on my cable dial as it is.

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