Buffalo Sabres game telecasts achieved record numbers for the month of January with both locally and nationally televised games setting new marks for viewership. Sabres games on MSG posted the highest-ever ratings for the month of January, besting the previous mark by more than 28 percent, and the Sabres’ nationally televised game against the Flyers on Jan. 20 garnered the highest regional rating for a Sabres game broadcast on NBC, excluding the Winter Classic. The record television ratings build upon the Sabres’ record ticket and merchandise sales numbers as the team returned from the lockout.
“The January ratings figures are staggering,” said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. “They speak to the rabid enthusiasm this region has for Buffalo Sabres hockey. The fans are the reason why Buffalo is one of the marquee NHL markets and we will strive to build on that momentum going forward.”
During the month of January, Sabres telecasts on MSG posted a rating average of 10.9, the highest-ever mark for the team’s game broadcasts during the month and the second-highest monthly rating since the 2005-06 season. The previous high-water mark for January telecasts was an 8.5 rating set during January 2008. The team’s highest average monthly rating for MSG telecasts was an 11.2 rating set in March 2008.
In addition to the month-long ratings numbers, two Sabres game telecasts on MSG – the Jan. 27 game vs. Washington and the Jan. 25 game vs. Carolina – ranked among the top 20 highest-rated Sabres telecasts on MSG. The Jan. 27 game earned an 11.3 rating (21 share, approximately 71,000 viewers), while the Jan. 25 matchup recorded an 11.2 rating (17 share, approximately 71,000 viewers).
The team’s season-opener against the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 20 drew the highest-ever rating in the Buffalo market for a nationally televised, regular-season Sabres game, excluding the 2008 Winter Classic. The game telecast, broadcast on NBC, posted a 20.1 rating and a 34 share, topping the team’s previous record – a 13.0 rating and 22 share – set by a Sabres-Flyers game broadcast on MSG on April 8, 2011.
The 20.1 rating on Jan. 20 indicates that 20.1 percent of television-equipped households were tuned into the game at some point during the broadcast and the 34 share means 34 percent of households watching TV in the region Sunday afternoon were watching the game. In the Buffalo market, that translates to approximately 127,000 households.
The television ratings were one of several remarkable demonstrations of fan support as the Sabres returned to the ice from the lockout. On Jan. 13, the Sabres sold more than 30,000 tickets in 24 hours. The sales numbers bested the ticket sales pace of previous seasons by almost six-fold. In 2011-12, the team sold 11,170 tickets over a two-day sales period.
Additionally, during a week-long Fan Appreciation Sale during the team’s training camp, the Sabres Store sold nearly 50,000 pieces of merchandise, the most the team has ever sold in such a short period of time and a total that was greater than the amount sold during the entire 2010-11 Sabres’ season.