I think the drive toward more sports networks and more sports coverage in general has been mostly the result of new technology. DVR now allows people to skip commercials and watch their favorite programs at more convenient times. Internet streaming, whether it's Netflix or Hulu, has removed traditional advertising as well. You can now watch your shows on-demand(sort of) online and you don't have to pause for commercial breaks.And since ad revenue funds TV networks, the advertisers are shifting their focus to live broadcasts. Most people don't want to watch games that are recorded. They want to know the results in real time, experience the moment, and maybe watch them at a social gathering too. So now, these broadcasts have become the most valuable for advertisers. That's one of the main reasons there is now more money in sports broadcasting than just 10 years ago. I don't know if the market will change anytime soon or what exactly the change will be when it happens. It won't always keep going up though.
Someone said recently that this diminishing returns aspect will also help drive expansion because 1) consolidating markets and 2)removing the competition in the race to ensure a bigger share of the limited pie will be an influence. I don't know if that's true or not, but it does make sense.
@AllTideUp Just to pile on, with the number of advertising opportunities for the traditional "arse in chair" viewer diminishing, as AllTide pointed out, the effect is to make the advertising space where the arse is actually in the chair and willing to sit through the commercial, much more valuable. And, that means an expansion opportunity for networks that carry sporting events that folks watch. Interesting UF and UGA are listed as talking. They have a huge rivalry, and while Adams has long been a proponent of the network, Machen at UF has been heavily lobbying Loftin at A&M over the past year (and I think Machen was pimping Loftin ot move to the SEC while they attended academic meetings in 2010 together) on the Network as a major incentive for A&M to jump to the SEC. (That was kind of alluded to by Loftin back in Sep when he accepted the SEC invite. He made it a point to mention Machen's contribution to the A&M decision to jump).