The Sabres and MSG have to come to some compromise over airing these West Coast games next week and not leave a rabid fan base to radio-only calls -- from substitute announcers that include a Winnipeg-based guy no one in Buffalo has ever heard of. I've been directed to this article in SportsBusiness Journal that came out this week and lists local TV ratings for NHL teams in the U.S. this season. Check out these numbers:
1. BUFFALO 8.87
2. Pittsburgh 6.14
3. Detroit 3.7
4. No one else over 2.3!!!!
Buffalo was NBC's No. 3 market for the Winter Classic behind Detroit and Chicago but I'm floored we are so much further ahead of every American-based team. Except for Pittsburgh and Detroit, MSG's ratings for Sabres game are nearly four times that of the other US markets.
And so they're not going to show four games in a row and be off the air for two weeks? How does that make any sense at all? The Sabres should be on the horn to MSG right now trying to work something out to allow the home-market broadcasts into Buffalo. And I think those ratings show there should NEVER be radio-only games. This isn't the 1970s.
Maybe the Sabres are trying to work on this issue behind the scenes. But I reiterate the piece of basic marketing advice that I said yesterday: If the customers want your product, why would you keep it away from them?