[Update, April 18, 2016: The Buffalo Sabres protected their edge in local TV ratings over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sports Business Daily reported]
Prepare to say goodbye to your TV ratings dominion, Pittsburgh Penguins.
Although the on-ice results may not be drastically different than last season, the Buffalo Sabres' TV ratings on MSG have soared, rising 55 percent and scooting past the Penguins at the halfway mark of the 2015-16 season. The percentage of growth since last year is also best among NHL teams.
According to the Street & Smith's Sports Business Daily report, based on Nielsen data released by NHL teams, the Sabres' average rating sits at a league-high 6.81, a comfortable lead over the Pens' 5.51.
Pittsburgh has perched at the top of the rankings for the past six years, the report notes.
From a business standpoint, here's an interesting note that Sports Business Daily passes along:
"The TV resurgence comes at a particularly important time for the team: The Sabres’ contract with MSG expires after the 2016-17 season. Buffalo will collect a rights fee of close to $10 million next year in addition to keeping all advertising revenue. The Sabres pay for all production costs."
The remainder of the season may close the gap, though, as Pittsburgh is fighting tooth-and-nail for an Eastern Conference wild card spot, while the Sabres are still in rebuilding mode. The advent of the Jack Eichel era, as well as the emergence of young standouts like Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen, has still captivated fans in this hockey-crazed city.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who likes the phrase "tooth and nail," at firstname.lastname@example.org