UPDATE: I e-mailed the Sabres and they responded rather quickly. The in-house camera feed of the game will be shown on the outdoor screens on Saturday. Crisis averted.
If you recall, the Pittsburgh Penguins stole the Sabres’ idea of throwing a giant party during their home playoff games last season. Hundreds of people were invited to watch games on a giant screen outside of Mellon Arena.
Unless a game was broadcast on NBC.
The network holds “exclusive broadcast rights” and does not allow games it broadcasts to be shown on arena screens. The local NBC affiliate issued this statement:
Ray Carter, Vice President and General Manager of WPXI, Channel 11, the local affiliate of the NBC Network, expressed disappointment in the decision.
“I know the outdoor screen has become a fan favorite for those who can’t get into the game. I wish we, as the local affiliate, could grant permission to the Pens, but quite frankly, our hands are tied. We do not hold the rights to the game; the NBC network in New York does. I understand and respect NBC’s right to do as they please with the broadcast signal.”
Games broadcast on Versus or FSN Pittsburgh weren’t affected.
The Sabres have big plans to expand their “Party in the Plaza” this year, adding a beer tent to the festivities, which “allow fans without tickets to stick around and watch the game on a big screen TV.”
Saturday’s game will be broadcast nationally on NBC. Will fans without tickets who plan on going to the Party in the Plaza for the game be blacked out? It’s not that far of a walk to Pearl Street and other establishments that stay open past 9 p.m., but, unfortunately, the atmosphere outside the arena could be pretty dull.
Thanks to Phil from Black and Blue and Gold for reminding me about this issue.