The Sports Business Journal (which unfortunately requires a subscription) listed some final regular season local ratings across the league. Numbers were down in many markets.
Detroit 2006-2007: 3.5
Detroit 2005-2006: 4.5
Detroit 2003-2004: 5.9
Boston 2006-2007: 1.6
Boston 2005-2006: 2.1
Boston 2003-2004: 2.4
Overall, 11 of the 24 U.S. markets saw local rating decreases and 9 markets were steady. Buffalo was one of 4 American markets to see a ratings increase.
The SBJ curiously claimed that the best local ratings in the U.S. were in Buffalo and Pittsburgh. That much is obvious and has been so for the entire season, but it's the actual figure that's surprising. They claim that Buffalo and Pittsburgh both finished the season with a 5.2 rating.
Considering the fact that as of February 6th, MSG was averaging a 5.6 and the huge ratings for nationally televised games (see below) down the stretch, I find that number hard to believe. Granted, nationally televised games do draw more viewers than a typical MSG game, but these figures are evidence of the obviously heightened interest level around Buffalo as the playoffs drew near. It wouldn't be the first time that a national media outlet has made a mistake about ratings on non-FSN channels so we'll have to wait and see what our local researchers say.
12.0 (Buffalo at Pittsburgh, March 13th, VS)
12.2 (Buffalo at Pittsburgh, April 3rd, VS)
16.4 (Buffalo at Philadelphia, April 8th, NBC)