clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why the pay TV 'sports tax' is more complicated than you think

New, 32 comments
ESPN logo
ESPN logo

As potential cord-cutters mull the possibility of dropping pay TV, live sports on channels like ESPN have become a point of frustration, both for people who can find almost everything but sports online and for non-fans who resent the "sports tax" — the significant portion of their bill that's spent on programming they never use. At the same time, the situation is more complicated than a few cable providers or sports channels milking subscribers just because they can. Over at The Atlantic, Derek Thompson has laid out some of the myth and facts surrounding how much people pay for sports.

Contrary to some reports, sports programming makes up nowhere near half the cost of cable, but there's no magic bullet to drive down prices that are still pretty high. "Expensive new contracts means higher costs for channels," he writes, "who pass the costs to the cable providers, who pass the costs to you. That's why deals like these make sports programming a leading source of your steadily rising cable bill, whether or not you watch sports."