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TV Money Big, But Market Growing Complex

As we saw the other day, there is a school of thought which sees a basic trainwreck coming in sports programming: the basic idea is that a glut of programming may drive prices up to the point where people just bail on pay-TV: a classic bubble.

The argument makes a certain amount of sense: sports by far cost the most, and the providers are trying to make up the difference in other ways, as you can perhaps see in the current CBS-Time Warner dispute.

Nonetheless, unless and until a lot more cords are cut, there is a ton of money out there, and people are lining up to get their share. Start with ESPN, the reigning king, and then look at NBC and Fox, both making big pushes.

But it's not just them: it's also Google, Apple, Sony, Intel, Netflix, and, coming up from the rear like an early '60s Beetle in Detroit's rearview, Aero. And the most desirable programming, the one which draws the most consistent and desirable mass audiences, is still sports.

Interestingly, while providers are resisting unbundling, generally speaking, Time Warner has suggested that CBS should be offered "a la carte."

But only CBS, apparently, and CBS isn't interested. No one is talking about unbundling ESPN.

Still, things are changing: DirecTV actually came out in support of Time Warner, saying Saturday that  “all pay TV customers are feeling trapped and helpless.”

Well, yeah, and some of them, a lot actually, are just dropping it. There's that bubble thing again.

Meanwhile, in DC, Sen. John McCain is trending populist and sponsoring a bill which would force a la carte bundling. But not everyone is sold on that either.

We won't take a stand on this legislation other than to say this: the entire bill is just under 1,500 words, rather than 1,500 pages. Compared to a lot of recent legislation, that's a blessing.