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12 opinions on the MSG-Pegula Sports deal

Here are a dozen more thoughts about the Madison Square Garden (MSG) deal with Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE) to carry Buffalo Sabres for more than a decade.

With sources saying the deal is for more than 10 years with a rights fee averaging about $19 million and $20 million annually, it adds up to more than $200 million over its length. Terry Pegula reportedly paid $189 million to buy the team in 2011. Of course, $200 million these days only is enough for long-term deals for four players the quality of Sabre Ryan O’Reilly. He signed a seven-year deal for $52.5 million a year ago.

PSE’s Mark Preisler and the Bills’ Marc Honan believe the move of John Murphy’s WGR radio show on the Bills to noon to 3 p.m. from nights will enable Murphy and a new co-host to get more players and coaches to guest on the program being aired live from studios at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

If I were a betting man, I’d guess that WGR would fill Murphy’s old 7 to 9 p.m. weekday time slot with programs that carry the “best of” all the talk shows that air that day. After all, most of the Sabres 82 games on WGR are carried on weekday nights. When those weeknights aren’t filled, WGR could add play-by-play of national sporting events.

Don’t worry, New York Knick fans. Their NBA games will continue to air on MSG Western New York. They have to become good at some point.

MSG Western New York’s five-hour block of simulcasting “Hockey Hotline” and Murphy’s show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays on MSG won’t be the first time something like that has happened in WNY. The defunct Empire Sports Network did a TV/radio simulcast of WNSA programs featuring Howard Simon and Jim Brinson about 14 years ago.

I would think one reason that owners Terry and Kim Pegula decided to stay with MSG rather than start a regional network was because PSE wasn’t assured that it could instantly get satisfactory distribution deals with local cable, satellite and FiOS that would have made it financially worthwhile.

Of course, the value of radio rights is a fraction of TV rights. According to sources, the new deals that WGR made to carry the Bills and Sabres games includes an increase. "We feel the team is a huge part of our success on all stations," said Greg Ried, who runs the local Entercom group. "Any increase we paid is commensurate with their contribution to our success."

From the cutting room floor. This quote missed Tuesday's newspaper story on the deal. PSE retained the digital rights to some programming, which led Preisler to say: “We can at some point if we deem fit start a PSE Digital Network to give fans in and out of the area an opportunity to watch TV programs and original programs for digital.” There are no plans to do so yet.

One of the big winners in this deal is Rochester. Before this deal, only a portion of the area was considered Sabres territory. Now the entire area is covered and will get all of MSG WNY programming besides just the Sabres games.

DISH subscribers believe they are losers in the deal since they don’t get Sabre games on MSG. MSG would have to do any renewed negotiations, not PSE.

One of the things that MSG gains from the deal is programming that WNYers care about. After MSG lost the New York Yankees years ago to their own network, YES, it needs more than just the Knicks and some New York Giants programming to interest our area.

Dan Dunleavy appears to be a good soldier. When he was originally hired, his contract said he was going to replace legendary announcer Rick Jeanneret as the Sabres play-by-play man this upcoming season. Now, Dunleavy will do about half a season. Dunleavy apparently will have to wait until the day Jeanneret decides to retire to get the job full time.


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