Pegula Sports and Entertainment and MSG Networks announced this week that they had reached a long-term agreement about the rights to Sabres' broadcasts. (Read the release here.) That means the Sabres will be on MSG for some time to come.
In addition, the broadcast outlet plans to do other local programming "relating to other Pegula Sports and Entertainment properties, such as the Buffalo Bills." In other words, coaches' shows, magazine programs, etc., will wind up there.
It sounds like a pretty good deal for Pegula S&E. If the company really did explore the idea of starting a regional sports network, it might have found that start-up costs are large and there isn't room for growth, say, east of Rochester and south of Olean. This arrangement will expand their programming without taking on too much risk.
Meanwhile, it's part of my job to keep up with the Bandits, another part of "One Buffalo." Their absence from even a mention in the news release strikes me as a little troubling.
The Bandits are the little brother of Buffalo sports in general and "One Buffalo" in particular. They aren't the Bills or the Sabres, and never will be. Still, the Bandits drew more than 16,000 fans per game this past season. Considering how low payroll costs are, someone is receiving a nice check for the profits at year's end. Those attendance numbers are in spite of the fact that, when it comes to broadcast media attention, the Bandits play in a virtual vacuum.
Television broadcasts of the games are on line, but they are a bit primitive and haven't been on cable in a few years. Local television stations generally stick to game highlights, while radio stations give the team even less coverage than that during the course of the year.
The new television deal seems like a way to create some media opportunities for the Bandits. It wouldn't take much to upgrade the production values of the show just a little and show them on MSG when there's an opening on the calendar. Even rebroadcasts of Bandits' games late on Saturday night when there's a conflict with a Sabre game would be nice. Sometimes road games are broadcast by the hosting team - such as when the Bandits play in Denver - and you'd think a deal could be worked out for showing those games here in such situations.
Meanwhile, there's certainly room for some sort of "magazine" show on the Bandits, even if it's only once a month in season. If you have people working on Bills' shows that need something to do in their offseason, this might be a good fit.
The Pegulas haven't been too visible when it comes to indoor lacrosse during their tenure. Terry wasn't even featured on any of the videos paying tribute to John Tavares when Tavares' jersey was retired, which annoyed some fans. (To her credit, Kim Pegula did visit privately with John and his family that night.) I'll bet some lax fans also noticed the Bandits' omission from stories on the TV deal and said, "Hey, what about us?"
After all, even a little brother deserves attention from his parents.
-- Budd Bailey