It's not ratings. It is the fact that the people who want them, really want them, and will switch providers to get them combined with favorbably legislation that keeps this model going.
Take the LA Dodgers for example, 350 million per year!!! »espn.go.com/los-angeles/mlb/stor ··· 4-report
You know how many people watch an average Dodger's game. 50,000!!
So, the 5 million households in the Dodger's market are going to be paying 70 dollars a year for 50,000 of them to watch their games.
Either the Dodger's or Time Warner would go bankrupt over night if RSNs were forced to a la carte. If they were to get that same revenue from only people watching their games (which is the way it should be), they'd have to charge $7,000 a year for their new network!
This model is a scheme that will not last much longer. And hopefully the Dodger's deal is the straw that makes it all come crumbling down.