Dude, that's not true. ESPN charges over 2 dollars a subscriber for every subscriber that has access to ESPN. Since it's on most basic tiers, that means that ALL of you are contributing 2+ dollars per month to ESPN. Since it's one of the biggest reasons a large group of people get cable, it makes sense for the cable companies and ESPN. But that dollar amount (around 100 mil households, IIRC * 12 * 2.70) is billions. Now, ESPN is in it's own price bracket for basic cable, but even if you dropped that to .50 or .25, it's still hundreds of millions.
getting on basic cable can be a sweet deal for popular channels. I'm not sure where the bottom is on subscriber fees, so maybe there are a lot of channels that are in the pennies range or part of a bundle that costs .50 or a dollar. It would be great for cable companies to disclose these fees so consumers would understand what was going into their bills.