The low Thursday ratings [for the NCAA men's basketball tournament] were partly due to competition on MSG for three hours with the Buffalo Sabres’ shootout victory over Ottawa. The Sabres game had a 10.8 rating.
If the Sabres miss the playoffs, Versus, the cable home of the NHL, may be as unhappy as local fans. This area remains a terrific TV market for hockey. The Sabres’ overtime loss to the New York Rangers a few weeks ago had a 10.2 rating on Versus, making it the highest-rated program in prime time here. It averaged a 14.4 rating in the last hour. In New York City, the game averaged a 1.4 rating.
Buffalo's the only American market in the NHL where hockey games are regularly earn the highest rating of any prime time show, network or cable. The double digit ratings this late in a disappointing season are encouraging.
To put that in perspective, Pittsburgh (one of the "Big 3" NHL American TV markets with Buffalo and Detroit) recently earned a 10.7 local rating. That was the second highest rating of any regular season game in Penguins history. Buffalo got a 10.8 in a down season for a pretty much average regular season game competing against march Madness.