The University at Buffalo women's basketball team deserves a larger TV audience for its NCAA Tournament game against Florida State at 6:30 Monday on ESPN 2 than it received for its first-round victory over South Florida early Saturday afternoon.
UB's 102-79 upset of South Florida had between a 2.1 and 2.3 preliminary local rating on ESPN 2.
That was about one-seventh of the local audience for the UB men team's 95-75 second-round loss to Kentucky, which scored a 14.7 preliminary local rating on WIVB-TV (Channel 4), the local CBS affiliate. It peaked with a 17.2 rating at game's end.
The ratings are preliminary until the actual start and finish times are confirmed.
While Title IX requires that women and men have equal opportunity to participate in sports and equal treatment from their schools in publicity and several other areas, viewers and the media aren't bound by it. They don't have to give men's and women's teams equal attention.
The local media has tried to be fair in devoting the UB women well-earned attention (look at today's Buffalo News sports section in print, or this feature on Cassie Oursler here). You would think that might translate into more TV viewers, especially since the UB women play an exciting, high-scoring brand of basketball.
The disparity between the ratings for UB men and women come with a couple of asterisks.
The men's game was carried on a broadcast network, CBS, which traditionally gets more viewers. The women's game was carried on a cable sports network.
In addition, the UB women's game was played for a considerable amount of time opposite the Buffalo Sabres' 5-3 Saturday afternoon victory over the Chicago Blackhawks and South Buffalo's Patrick Kane on MSG. The Sabres game had a 3.5 rating.
Syracuse, which has a large local alumni following, also is a big TV draw in Western New York. Take it from this SU graduate: Its three NCAA Tournament games and all the regular season games have been tough to watch.
But watch we do, marveling at what coach Jim Boeheim has been able to get out of his offensively challenged team.
Syracuse's 55-53 upset of Michigan State Sunday had a 7.8 preliminary rating on Channel 4. It was carried opposite the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament won by Rory McIlroy on WGRZ-TV (Channel 2). It had a 5.1 local rating.
To put the ratings for the UB men's and Syracuse games in perspective, they were higher than any prime-time entertainment program carried on Saturday and Sunday night on a broadcast network.