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NBC's plans for McDavid make sense; Ch.7 should eventually air Bills film

Remember Sports on the Air? Here’s a Friday edition of my former Saturday column.

It might have surprised some fans, but it makes perfect sense for NBC and the NBC Sports Network to only schedule one regular season game featuring the National Hockey League’s No. 1 draft choice, Connor McDavid.

Or should I say it makes perfect dollars and cents.

McDavid will be playing in Edmonton, a Canadian city that doesn’t get the NBCSN.

The largest percentage of viewers that NBC and its cable sports channel get when they carry NHL games comes from the markets of the participating teams.

NBC gets zero viewers in Edmonton, which could hurt its bottom line.

The one Edmonton game that NBCSN is carrying is against the Buffalo Sabres and the league’s No.2 pick, Jack Eichel on March 1.

As much as Western New York loves hockey, that game might be one of the lower-rated games because there won’t be any Edmonton viewership and the high ratings in the small market of Buffalo don't translate into as many viewers as bigger markets can get with lower ratings. That’s because a rating point here equals substantially fewer viewers than one in bigger markets.

Western New Yorkers are fortunate that they should be able to see plenty of McDavid during Hockey Night in Canada’s coverage of Edmonton on CBC.

The fact that McDavid -- a so-called generational player -- was drafted by Edmonton should be a big boost for Canadian television. However, NBC and perhaps the NHL would have been better served if he had played for an American team and could have been showcased more on TV in the States.

But you can’t expect an American network to carry games that are bound to be ratings losers.

NBCSN is only carrying one Toronto game for the same reason it is only carrying one Edmonton game. It won’t get any Toronto viewership.

It is carrying several Montreal games because the Canadiens are essentially considered the Dallas Cowboys of the NHL as a draw.

Speaking of the NFL, its No. 1 draft choices routinely are ignored when it comes to carrying showcase games in their opening seasons.

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston, the No. 1 draft choice in the league, will be only seen in prime time for one game this season. It’s a Thursday night game against St. Louis. And it isn’t on TNF because of Winston. All NFL teams are guaranteed one prime time game.

Fans are also asking why the Sabres only have five games on NBC and NBCSN this season after all the player moves they have made when they had several more national telecasts a year ago when the team was lousy.

NBC probably wouldn’t say it publicly, but it realizes it carried too many Sabre games a year ago.

Sure WNY ratings here are in the Top 3 in the league, but as I said above even high ratings here don’t translate into big national viewership for Sabre games even with all the former Buffalonians watching in other cities.

Of course, if Buffalo or Edmonton become major surprises this season that make them interesting TV draws, NBCSN can adjust its schedule and carry more of their games.

Local fans of Patrick Kane have to be happy with NBC and NBCSN schedules. Kane’s Chicago Blackhawks get 21 appearances on the networks, which is about a quarter of the team’s schedule.

Inquiring minds want to know: Will the Buffalo Bills 2014 highlight film carried by cable’s NFL Network last Sunday air on local television? The NFL Films piece by WNY native Michelle Girardi Zumwalt that sparked Twitter conversation -- done before she became a senior producer for Pegula Sports and Entertainment -- should eventually air on Channel 7. However, the Bills’ Mark Honan reports that Channel 7 can’t air it until the end of the exclusive window that The NFL Network has to carry it.

With Colin Cowherd headed to Fox Sports and booted off ESPN Radio early after making offensive comments about the intelligence of Dominican baseball players, ESPN has announced an August lineup of guest hosts for his old weekday program carried by WWKB-AM from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For the first week starting Monday, KB will be carrying “Max & Marcellus,” the title of a radio show in Los Angeles featuring former Buffalo Bill Marcellus Wiley and Max Kellerman.

The Bills training camp gets a visit on Friday, Aug. 7 from Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan as part of the Sirius XM NFL Radio Training Camp Tour (Channel 88). On Aug. 8, Buffalo News sportswriter Vic Carucci is part of the channel’s eight-hour coverage at the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, which feature the induction of former Bills General Manager Bill Polian and seven other NFL greats.

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