It's becoming tough to call Buffalo a soccer backwater.
NBC Sports Network released its ratings for the English Premier League season so far, and Buffalo ranks No. 9 among U.S. markets.
Here's the tweet, released by Washington Post's soccer reporter Steven Goff.
Top NBC markets for @premierleague season:
2 West Palm Beach and Dallas
6 Tulsa & Norfolk
10 DC & SAC
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) March 21, 2016
Previously, Buffalo had popped up in top ratings for individual English Premier League and U.S. men's national team tournaments, but never in a comprehensive fashion like this.
Signs that Buffalo was emerging as an EPL hot-spot were abundant, though; a visit and effusive praise from "Men In Blazers" hosts Michael Davies and Roger Bennett created a buzz.
Buffalo's EPL viewership is in line with a national trend, as NBCSN's coverage -- especially compared to that of Fox Sports and ESPN before -- was booming as of this Wall Street Journal report last October.
While the city's lone soccer-only bar, Mes Que, deserves substantial credit for encouraging local supporters groups and providing a prime location to gather and watch, other establishments like the former Papa Jake's, Caffe Aroma and Acropolis also took local interest seriously when fan-hood was more niche. Now, bars like Shenanigans and new Parkers' The Pitch Bar have joined the fray, lending more spread-out options for fans of English futbol.
Also noteworthy: Of the top 10 -- which is actually 13 given the three ties -- only four boast Major League Soccer franchises and five harbor United Soccer League clubs.
West Palm Beach -- even though it's in the same state as three NASL franchises -- Norfolk and Buffalo are the only three without professional teams. (I'm not entirely suggesting that interest in watching the EPL would equate to the same level of support for a local team, but it's worth noting nonetheless.)
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who reluctantly thinks the Gooners deserve praise, at firstname.lastname@example.org