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October ratings are Sabres’ highest in three years

Wednesday, 11.2.2011 / 1:47 PM ET / News
Buffalo Sabres | Press Release
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The Buffalo Sabres have posted the highest local television ratings in the NHL through the month of October. Sabres games on MSG averaged an 8.3 rating last month, the highest number in three years for the Buffalo market.

The 8.3 average rating represents approximately 54,000 households in the Buffalo market throughout October and takes into account the two afternoon games the team played while in Europe. In primetime games on MSG, the Sabres telecasts averaged a 9.3 rating and approximately 60,000 viewing households.  The team’s home opener against Carolina on Oct. 14 drew the largest audience, with an 11.5 rating and approximately 74,000 households. 

Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black attributes the strong ratings not only to the team’s performance on the ice but also to the high level of anticipation fans had for the season and the changes made to MSG telecasts this season.

“The Buffalo/Niagara region “lives hockey” and lives for hockey. It has demonstrated a remarkable passion for this team – and we’re trying to provide them with the best possible product on the ice and on television,” Black said. 

Black said he believes there are three primary drivers that have led the Sabres to the top spot among US-based NHL teams.

“First of all, there probably hasn’t been a more anticipated season in recent memory; second, there have only been 13 seasons when the Sabres had a stronger start to the year after 10 games; and lastly, our new pregame show now gives us a platform to build a viewing audience prior to the actual start of the game, which is especially evident during the first quarter hour ratings for the games.”

The pregame show is a new addition to MSG telecasts this year and features game previews, player interviews and a roster of veteran on-air talent. Newcomer Brian Duff has joined the team of Kevin Sylvester and former Sabres Danny Gare, Rob Ray and Mike Robitaille for the pre- and postgame analysis.

October ratings for Sabres telecasts have gradually increased over the past three years, posting a 6.7 to start the 2009-10 season, a 7.2 in 2010-11 and this year’s 8.3 through October.

This year’s ratings success for the Sabres is a continuation of the league-high 18.8 rating the team had in its seven-game Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Philadelphia during last season’s playoffs. Game 6 of last year’s series carried a 24.0 rating on NBC, the team’s highest-rated game since recording a 26.8 on May 19, 2007, in the deciding Game 5 of the Conference Finals on NBC against Ottawa.