Think about the way ESPN and HBO structure their deals. The watch anywhere apps are paid for by the fees paid by the cable companies (who negotiated that into their contracts). It's a mutual benefit to both ESPN and the cable provider to not allow the network to allow direct access. The cable companies would be ticked off if you could bypass them and would likely affect their relationships (and bottom lines). What irks me is that the cable companies are starting to charge "sports tier fees" on top of everything yet I can't watch my RSNs on my phone, iPad or laptop outside my house. YES Network actually charges a separate fee for that privilege yet ESPN has that essentially written into their contract. It's time the industry realized people are just not watching the way our grandparents did and most people have lives outside the house.
As for the speed issue, it will never change until there is true competition. Why invest if there's no return. Everyone here has it right that consumers won't pay ridiculously and unjustifiably high prices for gigabit speeds but if they did offer it at reasonable price and lower the price on their slower tiers, I guarantee you many customers will sign up for faster speeds.
Someone else said it best, "We'll tell you what speeds you want!"