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NBC stuns hockey fans by moving end of outdoor game to NBCSN

Many local National Hockey League fans were upset and stunned Saturday night when NBC sent the scoreless final four minutes of Washington's 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in an outdoor game to its cable sports network NBCSN.

But not that many fans here were watching.

The game, which had a 15-minute delay, had a 2.1 rating on WGRZ-TV (Channel 2), the local NBC affiliate. It had a 1.9 rating from 10:45 p.m. to 11 p.m. before NBC allowed its affiliates across the country to switch to local news.

That allowed the first new edition of "Saturday Night Live" in several weeks to start on time. If NBC had continued to carry the game, local news stations most likely would have had to cut their 30-minute newscasts.

The hollering from local hockey fans is understandable. But it also is an understandable business decision for NBC. You could say the move made dollars and cents for NBC. The NHL refers to its deal with NBC as a partnership.

If the game had only a 2.1 rating here in what often is the No. 1 TV market for hockey, it might not even get a 1 rating when the national rating comes in later today. NBC has several owned and operated affiliates in much bigger markets than Buffalo that make money with their 11 p.m. newscasts. Its Washington affiliate stayed with the game.

CBLT, the CBC affiliate in Toronto, also carried the game. Canadian viewership isn't measured in the United States.

Channel 2 was carrying NBC's coverage during the introductions of every member of the gold medal U.S. women's hockey team, including Western New York native Emily Pfalzer.

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