Why $5.31 matters

$5.31 — it seems like nothing. Well, actually this is a significant amount

I was reading an article in Friday’s Wall Street Journal (9/9) which discussed ESPNs 8-year $15 billion dollar deal for Monday Night Football. The Monday night game moved off of the ABC broadcast network a few years back, but I think this new deal represents a hefty price for a game that usually doesn’t mean much. The Monday night games are a far cry from when Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford used to call the plays. However, even more shocking than the $15b figure is that each American cable or satellite TV household pays $5.31 out of their bill for ESPN and ESPN 2. Five dollars and thirty one cents.

Now you can understand why the “starter” package with Comcast is $62.95 a month and quite similar with DirecTV and ATT U-Verse once the gimmick pricing expires. In some cases Comcast will charge you $9 to $13 a month for an HD cable box (13 if you get the DVR option). However, I am not going to gripe about box rental fees. You may be surprised to know that the retail cost of your HD box is $400 to $500. It is legal to buy your own digital cable box now, but at the cost of $300 for a TIVO and the same for an HD Home Run (the only models sold to the public), it may be hard to justify.

On top of ESPN, your regional sports networks — which in Connecticut include NESN, YES, CSN (Celtics), and SNY (Mets) — must add at least another $5 to your bill. If you don’t watch these premium sports networks at home, it may be time to talk to your provider about a more reasonably priced package. A little birdie told me that Comcast is offering their Digital Economy package (includes Lifetime, AMC, FoxNews, CNN, USA and some other good stations) for $20 a month for 12 months (not including box rentals).

Don’t get too upset about that $50 million tax break the state of CT is giving ESPN (deep breaths).