The Houston Astros Major League Baseball team set a record this week, and it is a dubious distinction indeed. It is also another big shot of lemon juice into the wounds of the nation’s TV consumers. Let me explain.

Last Sunday the Astros’ game against the Cleveland Indians drew a 0.0 rating according to the Nielsen service. What that means is that not a single Nielsen household watched the game. It is likely that somebody in Houston tuned in, but not one Nielsen viewer did so, which suggests that virtually nobody watched the game.

That might seem to be a harmless matter, since it means that very few, if any, people were subjected to the grim spectacle of another loss by the Astros—their ninth in a row and 105th of the season. Unfortunately, the millions of people in the Houston area who pay for cable or satellite television paid for this game and all the other horrible Astros games this year, in the subscriber fees they’re charged by the providers.

The providers of popular TV content (such as ESPN, the Discovery Channel, American Movie Classics, and the like) receive money each month from the cable and satellite providers for each subscriber. In the case of ESPN, this amounts to more than $5 per customer per month, literally billions of dollars per year, and regional sports networks such as the one carrying the Astros games likewise make tidy sums from all cable and satellite customers, including those who don’t watch the stations at all.

Thus everybody in the Houston area who subscribes to cable or satellite TV paid for a game that nobody watched. This happens all the time, as customers are forced to pay for channels they don’t watch, and even for channels nobody watches, due to the practice of bundling, in which content providers force cable and satellite companies to buy several unpopular channels in order to get the one people do watch. For example, customers are stuck paying for the numerous ESPN channels in order to get any cable or satellite service at all, because the providers won’t sell ESPN without it.

As this instance indicates, sports teams across the nation—pro and “amateur” alike—are making a fortune from people who don’t use their products. It’s a sweet deal for them, but a sour pill for the customers to have to swallow each month.