Thursday, September 20, 2007

MSNBC On Sabres TV Revenue

There's been a lot of speculation about exactly how much money the Sabres deal with MSG brings in the team. MSNBC, in an article about the franchise's turnaround off the ice, provided a bit of insight, but along the lines of what we already knew:

Golisano & Co. have signed a local TV deal with MSG Network through the 2016-2017 season believed to be in the high seven figures annually, in which the Sabres bring in money by selling advertising and where they control production (whose costs they bear). Under previous owner John Rigas, founder of cable firm Adelphia Communications, the team’s broadcast territory through Empire Sports Network barely made a dent in the Empire State. Today, their games can be seen as far away as Albany, helping to mint new fans.

Obviously, with the Sabres generating income by selling advertising, the exact figure won't come out barring a major leak from someone in the know. That said, Larry Quinn admitted that the blunder causing MSG's ratings numbers to be underreported cost the team a significant amount of advertising revenue last year. It's unknown exactly how widespread the underreporting was, but it's safe to say the ratings were artificially low by 30-50%. This season will be the first time advertisers are paying for the full rating prowess that the Sabres bring. They're the top rated cable show in Buffalo reaching prime demographics.

Since we know that Empire's rights fee was $9.5 million annually, I'd be surprised if the Sabres don't pull in well over $10 million from their local TV contract alone for the 2007-2008 season.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Winter Classic - 42,000 Tickets Sold in 25 Minutes

Everyone seems to be outraged about the ticket situation for the New Year's Day AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic, which we now know will be the highest attended game in NHL history. The "average Joe" segment is outraged that so few tickets were available to die hard fans, Bills season ticket holders are outraged that they had no priority rights to purchase ducats, Pittsburgh fans are outraged that Buffalo fans hacked their highly encrypted password 'Crosby' and bought up their block, Sabres season ticket holders are outraged that there's only 1 ticket on average set aside for them as "extras", and outrage has been set aside for mass confusion from everyone in regards to the bizarre decision to give Toronto Blue Jays season ticket holders preference.

The bottom line, which seems to be being missed by nearly everyone, is that Buffalo sold all 42,000 available tickets in 25 minutes. That figure doesn't even include the 30,000 tickets reserved for Sabres season ticket holders. This is incredible display by the most rabid NHL fan base in the United States. For a league that takes more than it's fair share of flak, this is a fantastic way to show the NHL is not nearly as dead as advertised. Given the right market, the right amount of exposure, and competent marketing, the NHL is capable of hosting a successful event on a very busy sports day (traditionally dominated by college football) because they have the most passionate group of fans in professional sports.

The national ratings will be poor. I'd be highly surprised if it even cracks a 2.0. Don't be fooled by the ratings though, this level of interest is a great sign for hockey.

The NHL released the following statement:
Demonstrating once again that our fans are the most passionate in sports, more than 42,000 tickets to the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic were sold in the first 30 minutes of availability this morning. Due to the overwhelming demand, plus our commitment to Sabres and Penguins season ticket holders, the Buffalo Bills and sponsors of the event, we are currently sold out. If additional tickets become available, we'll release the information at a later date.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sabres Home Games To Be in HD

Tim Graham reports that Sabres home games on MSG will be broadcast in high definition.

So I had the chance to ask around at the arena today, and learned the Sabres will televise their home games only in HD. Although road games will remain in standard definition for now, more and more away dates will be upgraded in future seasons.

Now we wait on Time Warner.