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Category Archives: Buffalo Sabres

Sabres Ratings Plummet Without TWC

As expected, the Buffalo Sabres are taking a big hit since MSG was pulled from Time Warner Cable. From The Buffalo News

The dispute between Time Warner and Madison Square Garden network, the New York City-based regional sports carrier with the exclusive rights to Sabres telecasts, plummeted the Sabres’ stratospheric television rating from an average season 8.3 share down to 3.2 for Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over Edmonton at First Niagara Center.

In other words, nearly two-thirds of the TVs tuned into Sabres hockey — the NHL’s leading American television market — before the New Year are now darkened by MSG’s Jan. 1 removal from Time Warner.

In addition to the on-air sponsorships and commercials, the loss of air time is reducing dasher board and on-ice exposures, meaning sponsors and the Sabres are watching money and opportunities to reach a captivated audience circle the drain. The Sabres are particularly affected by the local advertising because the team, not MSG or Time Warner, sells and benefits from that advertising.

The Sabres have been doing some viewing parties to help the fans out but that’s little consolation to them. And as the story mentions, this really hurts the Sabres bottom line as they control all advertising of the games. The only thing MSG really does is help produce it and supply a cable channel. While much of the focus has been on the NYC area, nobody will feel the effects of this more than Buffalo.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Buffalo Sabres, MSG, NHL, Ratings, Television

 

MSG Goes Dark On Time Warner Cable

To no one’s surprise, MSG has gone dark on Time Warner Cable. That leaves most of New York state without access to the Sabres, Rangers, Devils and Islanders. In response, TWC is offering a free view of their sports pack to its customers, although that means little to fans of their local teams. From Multichannel News

Time Warner Cable, maintaining that a deal had been in reach before the programmer demanded a “whopping” increase and refused to negotiate further, is offering its subscribers a month-long freeview of its sports package in the wake of the removal of MSG and MSG Plus from its lineup.

The nation’s No. 2 cable operator and MSG Media couldn’t reach a new license fee agreement as their contract expired at midnight on Jan. 1 and the two regional sports networks, which carry New York Knicks NBA games, as well as the NHL’s New York Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres, are not currently available to Time Warner Cable’s 2.3 million video customers in the New York DMA and in upstate New York.

“Despite agreeing to the asked for 6.5% price increase on rates that MSG themselves deemed as fair market rates just last year, MSG reneged on the deal and instead, demanded a whopping 53% increase and refused to negotiate further,” Mike Angus, senior vice president, content acquisition, for Time Warner Cable, in a statement.

“We hate that our customers have been put in this terrible position, and MSG has offered no credible explanation as to why they suddenly need a 53% increase over last year’s rates. Perhaps after renovating the Garden they are looking for New York sports fans to fund renovations of the Forum they recently purchased in Los Angeles. Who knows, but if they have substantial new funding needs, that’s what banks – not our customers – are for. We hope the fans will remind MSG that in these economic times, no one can afford to pay 53% more for their channel.”

In announcing the disconnect on Dec. 31, MSG Media president Mike Bair expressed his own disappointment.
“All we have asked is for Time Warner Cable to value our programming in the same way as other TV providers — nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, they rejected every offer we made to them for almost two years. In the end, they were simply not interested in conducting serious negotiations on behalf of their customers and instead spent their time grossly mischaracterizing our positions to the public. We certainly hope Time Warner Cable returns to the negotiating table and reconsiders our good faith proposals.”

Both sides have launched websites to keep customers updated on any future negotiations and for PR purposes. Time Warner has launched www.twcconversations.com/MSG which points out that many games are available on national channels. Meanwhile, MSG has launched two websites. The first one, keepmsg.com focuses on the New York City area, while keepmysabres.com is targeted towards the Buffalo region.

 

NHL Hypes Regional Ratings

This is a huge press release from the NHL, detailing various business and broadcasting numbers. I will post the full release after the jump. But first, I’m going to highlight some of the regional ratings that are included since much of the other information mentioned is dated and already known –

First Quarter Filled With TV Ratings Highlights

Eleven local Regional Sports Networks experienced double- and triple-digit growth, including:

• Nashville (+200 percent)
• Carolina (+125 percent)
• Florida (+100 percent)
• Tampa Bay (+71 percent)
• Philadelphia (+60 percent)
• Boston (+57 percent)
• Minnesota (+53 percent)
• San Jose (+44 percent)
• Buffalo (+26 percent)
• Edmonton (+21 percent)
• New York Rangers (+14 percent)

There’s some huge bumps in there, but keep in mind that for many of the Southern teams, ratings couldn’t go much lower. In the case of the Predators, their local ratings are rarely published, so we don’t know where they previously ranked on the totem pole. Clearly, Florida is seeing a boost from their strong start but they have a long ways to go when it comes to being respectable ratings wise. It will be interesting to see if Carolina can continue that momentum since they have been struggling on the ice. A quick update. The Carolina and Nashville ratings include the Atlanta market for the first time. This helps explain their jumps a little bit. Either way, its good to see more people tuning in. Thanks to Dirk Hoag at On the Forecheck for the info.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

A Few Scribbles

Here’s a few scribbles on NHL ratings and business as the weekend comes closer.

RATINGS UPDATE

We have some TSN ratings for you in addition to my prior post. TSN PR man Greg McIssac reports that Wednesday’s Toronto/Boston matchup drew a strong 1.27 million viewers on average. That’s not a surprise as the Leafs ratings continue to soar. Add in an rival and you have a very good number.

There’s been plenty of Boston Bruins ratings that have been leaking out lately. Each one seems to set a new record and that streak continues. Fang’s Bites reports that NESN had a record November with the B’s averaging a 5.3 rating. That’s up from the previous high of 4.0 which was garnered this past March.

The Bruins aren’t the only team with some impressive numbers. The Buffalo Sabres are always near the top of the ratings heap and their numbers are only growing. Ironically, the Bruins were involved in this one too. Puck The Media has the details –

The Buffalo Sabres’ tilt with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 23 drew the highest television rating so far this season for telecasts on MSG. The divisional matchup posted a 12.1 rating and a 20 share regionally. Ratings for the telecast actually peaked at 14.9 during the shootout when Boston’s Benoit Pouliot beat Jhonas Enroth to seal a 4-3 victory for the Bruins.

“The matchup was arguably the most anticipated of the season,” said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. Our fans are awesome and we are very pleased and humbled by the fact that for the second straight month, the Buffalo Sabres’ television ratings on MSG continue to lead all US-based NHL teams.”

The 12.1 rating indicates that 12.1 percent of television-equipped households were tuned into the game at some point during the broadcast and the 20 share means 20 percent of households watching TV in the region Wednesday night were watching the game.

Last Wednesday’s ratings were the highest among the 19 Sabres games broadcast on MSG so far this season. The second-most viewed contest was the team’s home opener against Carolina on Oct. 14, which drew an 11.5 rating and 18 share regionally.

On average, MSG telecasts of Sabres games have earned an 8.81 rating regionally so far this season. The team posted the highest ratings in three years during the month October when telecasts drew an average rating of 8.3.

BLUE JACKETS GET A NEW REPORTER 

When John Michael was named the new radio voice of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, that left the Columbus Blue Jackets searching for a new reporter. With the NBA lockout coming towards an end, the Jackets and Fox Sports Ohio have made their choice. Natalie Taylor will join Fox’s coverage beginning on December 8. Taylor is somewhat familiar to Ohioans as she’s previously worked in Columbus and for FS Ohio. Additionally, Taylor does have hockey in her past. She spent two years as the Atlanta Thrashers sideline reporter on SportSouth.

FORBES NHL VALUES

One of the most controversial things to come out every year is Forbes’ NHL valuations. The latest have been released and Toronto continues to hold the number one spot. The New York Rangers, Montreal, Detroit and Boston round out the top five. For more insight on the rankings and the league’s financial growth, check out Puck Drunk Love’s interview with Forbes Sr. Editor Kurt Badenhausen.

NHL SEES STRONG SALES OVER HOLIDAY WEEKEND

The Thanksgiving weekend brought record sales to NHL.com and the NHL store. From NHL.com –

The League saw strong sales growth of its licensed product over the holiday shopping weekend (Nov. 26 -29), illustrating an increased fan demand.

North American retail sales are up 11 percent post Black Friday, while NHL team store and concessionaires are up 15 percent in per cap sales year-to-date. Products driving sales growth include NHL Video Games, specifically EA Sports NHL 11 (up 20 percent), 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic apparel (up 41 percent), women’s apparel (up 52 percent), men’s apparel (up 22 percent), and Franklin NHL street hockey equipment (up 32 percent).

The NHL has also once again registered record-setting merchandise sales at both the NHL Powered by Reebok Store and at Shop.NHL.com over the Thanksgiving weekend. NHL Powered by Reebok recorded its largest Black Friday sales figures in the four year history of the New York City store with a 7 percent increase over last year’s record-breaking sales. The record-setting Thanksgiving weekend generated additional momentum in sales figures for the store. For the full month of November, sales were up 16 percent this year compared to last, and overall store sales this year (Jan.-Nov. 2010) have increased 9 percent from 2009.

Shop.NHL.Com experienced its second-highest grossing sales day ever on Black Friday with a remarkable 153 percent increase for the day over 2009. The highest grossing sales day to date on Shop is still the day after the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.   Remarkably, 50 percent of customers on Black Friday were new to Shop.NHL.com.

The top-five selling items on Shop.NHL.com from Black Friday through Cyber Monday were:

* Reebok Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 Winter Classic Premier Jersey
* Reebok New York Rangers Premier Third Jersey
* Reebok Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 NHL Winter Classic Hooded Sweatshirt
* Reebok Philadelphia Flyers Premier Home Jersey
* Warner Home Video Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin Great 8 DVD

SPONSORSHIP UPDATE

Finally, there’s some sponsorship news out there that I have Tweeted but I haven’t posted about them so here we go. First off, you’ve probably noticed all those ads and rink signage for “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” the new movie that will be released on December 21. The ads are part of a deal the league signed with Paramount Pictures. According to Variety, the league has long suited a film studio for a deal and it now has its wish.

And earlier this week, Visa Canada renewed its deal with the league. The new pact is for three years and makes Visa the official payment card of the NHL in Canada. While this is confusing, the deal doesn’t affect the league’s sponsorship with Discover in the US. The two companies have the same branding but can only use it for the country they are paying for, so don’t expect any Visa commercials on NBC and Versus anytime soon.

 

Ratings Watch

Here’s a look at some NHL ratings.

CANADA

These BBM ratings are sourced from the Canadian Sports Media Blog.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 8, 2011

Sportsnet Ontario Florida/Toronto 783,000 viewers

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 9, 2011

TSN NY Rangers/Ottawa 448,000

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2011

TSN Toronto/St. Louis 1,170,000

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 12, 2011

CBC Scotiabank Hockey Tonight 1,245,000
CBC 7 PM Regional (OTT/TOR, WPG/CBJ, MTL/NSH) 2,250,000
CBC 10 PM Calgary/Colorado 757,000

UNITED STATES – VERSUS

Unfortunately, the Versus game ratings were unavailable for this past week but judging by the post-game ratings, they probably weren’t all that impressive anyhow. These Nielsen ratings are sourced from The Voice of TV.

MONDAY NOVEMBER 7, 2011

9:30 PM NHL Live 66,000 41,000 A18-49
10:00 PM NHL Overtime 25,000 13,000

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 8, 2011

9:30 PM NHL Live 116,000 51,000
10:30 PM NHL Overtime 59,000 45,000

UNITED STATES – REGIONAL

We have some regional ratings from Boston and Buffalo. First up, from BostInnovation are some Bruins ratings –

Whatever the case, the network has recorded two of its highest regular season game ratings in the past few weeks, and they’ve done it without the studio show host that so many people came to associate with the Bruins over the past few years. A 5.2 household rating was earned for the November 7th matchup with the New York Islanders, and that number was bested by Tuesday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils, which did a 5.3 – good for third in the network’s regular-season history all-time.

Despite a slow start for the Bruins, NESN still has a 3.9 household rating on the season, which is a 46% increase over last season through the same number of games, according to Puck the Media.

NESN’S Thursday night broadcast against Columbus brought in big ratings. This comes from NESN PR guy Gary Roy’s twitter account  –

Another season best #Bruins rating on @NESN last night – 6.1 HH the new 3rd best reg season rating in NESN history #NESNTV

In case you are wondering, the 2nd best reg season rating inNESN history was a 6.2 HH on 3/18/10 vs. Pittsburgh #NESNTV

Sabres ratings come from Buffalo Business First

The Buffalo Sabres drew the highest local television ratings in the National Hockey League through the month of October and up 15.2 percent compared to the same month last year.

Sabres games broadcast on rightsholder MSG network averaged an 8.3 rating last month, the highest number in three years for the Buffalo market. That compares to a 7.2 rating in 2010-11 and a 6.7 rating to start the 2009-10 season,

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 to start the season. 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.

 

FCC Affirms MSG Decision; MSG Must Offer HD

From Multichannel News

The FCC has denied a request by Madison Square Garden and Cablevision to review a Media Bureau decision that it must make high-definition feeds of its MSG and MSG-Plus regional sports nets available to AT&T and Southern New England Telephone Company in Connecticut, and Verizon in the New York and Buffalo markets.The commission affirmed that and refused a request to stay its effective date, though it found that “in order to provide sufficient time for compliance,” it would give them 15 days from the Nov. 10 order release date to provide the programming.

Among other content, MSG and MSG Plus televise New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils National Hockey League games and the New York Knicks National Basketball Association games, should the pro hoops league end its lockout of its players.

The Media Bureau had initially said the feeds had to be provided by Nov. 14, while a deal had to be struck on reasonable terms and conditions by Oct. 22. They now have until Nov. 25 to make the feeds available.
The Media Bureau had ruled that Cablevision/Madison Square Garden Network violated FCC program-access rules by withholding HD versions of the RSNs.

The MSG HD battle is one of the longest running in the world of cable sports television. MSG was dropped from Dish Network last year and hasn’t come to a new agreement with them.

 

Rants, Raves And Some News

Here’s a some rants, raves and some news on a Tuesday morning:

  • NHL Live debuted an improved set yesterday. They are still stuck in a shoebox studio but it is a definite improvement. The regular addition of Bill Pidto as host should help as he has great chemistry with E.J. Hradek. They still need to work on getting better guests and better fan interaction. Since the move from XM, the show has lost much of that.
  • NHLN’s ticker continues to bother me. I don’t need it running the entire time during games. Also, the dreaded Twitter scroll from the NHL Awards and Draft is back. Like then, it just shows the same tweets over and over again. I’m not against showing tweets, but they usually aren’t relevant at all and showing the same ones for five hours straight is silly since Twitter is all about real time news and thoughts.
  • Jamie McLennan made his NHL Network debut last night. He’s been doing work for TSN Radio in Toronto. I would rate his debut as a C+. A better broadcast partner than David Amber would’ve helped as would another analyst in the studio. That said, I’d like to see more of him.
  • NHLN is still struggling when it comes to content during its intermissions. Instead of allowing McLennan some TV time, we were treated to a months old NHL.com video segment featuring Hradek and Mike Johnson at the R&D Camp during the second intermission. It was some stale television. The good news is that Kathryn Tappen will make her NHLN debut with an interview segment tonight.
  • Props to the Leafs TV team as they had a solid broadcast. Props also go to teams that have jumped on the streaming bandwagon. The Leafs streamed their game last night, but it was mired with technical issues. The Sabres streamed their game with a Jumbotron feed with audio fed from the radio broadcast. That’s all you need. It appears that the majority of teams will stream at least one preseason game this year and that’s a good thing.
  • In case you missed it, TSN officially announced the addition of Marc Crawford yesterday. He will make his debut on Wednesday night when Boston faces the Senators. As I mentioned before, he’s a great fit to replace Craig MacTavish. Also, it appears that Aaron Ward will make regular appearances on the TSN panel this season with Mike Peca busy as general manager for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres.
  • In some interesting news, Puck The Media breaks the news that Bob Harwood is joining the Hurricanes as a reporter. This seems like a missed opportunity for some of the league’s national rights holders as Harwood is a terrific reporter. With CBC needing some more talent, it makes you wonder why they didn’t go after Harwood. Surely, he’s a better fit than Mitch Peacock. Same goes for NHLN which is where Harwood worked during the Stanley Cup Final. He was a definite upgrade to their broadcasts. Congrats to Bob and to Carolina for an excellent addition to their already strong broadcast team.