Buffalo’s status as a hockey-watching town received another boost today. The Sabres announced they led the NHL in ratings for the first round of the playoffs.
The Sabres’ series with Philadelphia featured six games on their home channel of MSG. Buffalo averaged an 18.8 rating (119,000 homes) on MSG, more than two points ahead of Pittsburgh’s 16.5 for its seven games against Tampa Bay. The 18.8 doesn’t include the 24.0 rating that Buffalo achieved for NBC’s broadcast of Game Six.
The Sabres’ Game Seven loss in Philadelphia on April 26 averaged a season-high 19.7 on MSG. The finale peaked at 24.1 between 8:15-8:30 p.m., and an average of 126,000 homes tuned in to watch.
"This was a perfect stew," Sabres President Ted Black told The News. "People love to watch a team when it’s winning, and it was an exciting team to watch. All the games down the stretch were tight. All the games in the series were tight, except for the last one.
"I’m excited to see where we can take it. When we’re really clicking and when we’re winning that Stanley Cup, you’re going to see astronomical ratings around here."
The Sabres added pregame and postgame shows to their MSG package late in the season. Black said the programs will be back for 2011-12.
"Absolutely, we’re looking at continuing that," he said. "It’s going to be an expense, so the revenue might have to catch up to it, but first and foremost, we’re fans, too. I want more."