But my point isn't that there is some technical need for Comcast or Time Warner to bundle (or even sell) content. Instead, I'm arguing that this practice is economically efficient. Someone has to pay the fixed costs of creating content; once these costs are paid, there's zero marginal cost to offering channels as widely as possible. I might only want cable to watch sports on ESPN or TNT, and you might only want news channels and cartoons, but the costs of creating all this content wouldn't magically go down if we had the option to purchase stations individually. Instead, assuming that the overall amount of content didn't decrease, on average we'd be paying the same fee for fewer options.
By bundling stations together and allowing us to access more content for the same price, the much-hated cable middleman has actually improved our choices. This arrangement is the accidental result of past technical limitations, but that doesn't mean it's not efficient.