SBD/January 9, 2012/Media

Sabres Vow To Compensate Sponsors Impacted By TWC-MSG Dispute

Sabres' loss of air time is reducing dasher board and on-ice exposures

Sabres President Ted Black said that the team "will honor" its commitments to sponsors amid Time Warner Cable's ongoing carriage dispute with team broadcaster MSG, and that the club "intends to compensate those aggrieved" by the spat, according to T.J. Pignataro of the BUFFALO NEWS. The TWC-MSG dispute "plummeted the Sabres' stratospheric television ratings from an average season 8.3 share down to 3.2" for Tuesday's game against the Oilers. In addition to the on-air sponsorship and ads, the loss of air time is "reducing dasher board and on-ice exposures, meaning sponsors and the Sabres are watching money and opportunities to reach a captivated audience circle the drain." The Sabres are "particularly affected by the local advertising because the team, not MSG and Time Warner, sells and benefits from that advertising." Black said that team officials "have been communicating with sponsors since the dispute began." Black: "There's a level of comfort that we're going to do the right thing by them." Black said that "rather than quantifying reimbursements for claims of underexposure, the team will likely make adjustments for sponsors on renewals or offer 'bonus spots' at the end of the season." However, Sabres officials "don't expect the team's bottom line to suffer much." Black said, "As a percentage of our overall revenues, it's not going to have a material impact on our business. It's not a full season." He also confirmed that the Sabres "asked MSG for permission to live-stream games on the team's website." Black: "They denied that request" (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/8).

WATCH PARTY: The BUFFALO NEWS' Pignataro noted more than 5,000 fans attended a viewing party at First Niagara Center for Friday's Sabres-Hurricanes game. The event was "so successful that lines at concession stands were, in some places, more than a dozen fans deep." The team "had handed out vouchers for free soda and free popcorn at the front gate." The team "staffed the game for about 3,000 fans," and it is "more than likely if there's another viewing party, things will improve." Meanwhile, a Verizon FiOS booth "was attracting frequent traffic" at the event, and there was a "roving Direct TV representative" present (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/8).

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