Video: The Great TV Takeover

Billion-dollar fees and ever expanding coverage are reshaping American sports

Let's take a sports quiz. When do kickoffs happen in football? Answer: when the two-minute TV commercial break is over. Why are World Series games played on frigid October nights and on the West Coast in late-afternoon twilight? So viewers at home can watch in prime time. Why do basketball play-offs now include 16 of the N.B.A.'s 27 teams and last well into June, when the heat in old arenas like the Boston Garden can be stifling? Right again: so TV can have more potentially high-rated games. And if television didn't exactly create showboating antics like slam dunks in basketball and...