Remember the glory days? The Empire Sports Network broadcast Sabres games, had a handful of talk shows and a nightly highlight show that was centered around Western New York sports.
At one point Empire was truly thriving. It was the perfect outlet to serve WNY in terms of Sabres and Bills coverage in addition to high school, college and other professional sports. Unfortunately the Adelphia scandal all but killed Empire and it died off prior to the 2005-06 NHL season.
The recent MSG/Time Warner spat has blacked out a vast majority of Sabres fans and has left many questioning what the next step will be in this regard. the contract dispute is nothing more than the final straw for many. The lack of respect MSG has shown the WNY market is pathetic. Aside from Sabres games, there is little acknowledgement for the region. That includes commercials. Unfortunately the Sabres; contract with MSG runs for the next few seasons, ending in 2016-17. If the contract must run its course, then so be it. But is there a chance that a different entity could step in?
There is no secret that Ted Black comes from television. All the reports about him during the Pegula sweepstakes pointed to the success he had in building FSN-Pittsburgh. Between Pegula’s deep pockets, Black’s prowess with a sports television station and the obvious market demand in Buffalo; it would seem a regional sports network would do well here.
The first point that should be made is that there has been mo mention of anything along these lines happening. Who knows if Pegula would even be interested in forking over more dough to bankroll this type of venture? In addition, there is the current MSG contract to consider as well.
But just thinking outside the box certainly paints a picture that this type of channel would not only have plenty of content, but the potential for a strong, successful lineup. The Sabres, Bandits and Bills would obviously be the cornerstones of this channel, but UB, Niagara, Canisius and additional high school and college sports would provide ample filler. Building around some of the staples which Empire succeeded with, there is a foundation that can be augmented by additional coverage and programming. Continue reading