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What TV ratings for Dolphins games reveal. And praise for Tua, news on ACC Network

·7 min read
David Santiago

A six-pack of media notes on a Tuesday:

Dolphins television ratings in South Florida are poor compared with other NFL markets; of 30 NFL cities, only in Los Angeles and New York do a smaller percentages of viewers watch the home team than South Floridians watch the Dolphins.

That has been the case for several years, as the Dolphins have meandered through two decades of irrelevance.

But while the ongoing winning streak is starting to boost numbers very slightly, this is notable: Whether the team is on a winning or losing streak doesn’t seem to dramatically affect audience size for Dolphins games in recent years, including this year.

That’s in contrast to the Heat, Panthers and Marlins, whose viewership usually increases when the team is winning.

For perspective, about 9,000 more homes in South Florida watched Miami’s fourth win in a row (Sunday against Carolina on Fox) than watched their seventh loss in a row (Halloween day at Buffalo on CBS). It likely would have been a larger gap if the Carolina game had been on the road, because many — if not most people — in the stadium would have been TV viewers instead.

Regardless of whether the team is winning or losing, Dolphins games this season have typically produced ratings in the 10 to 13 range — equal to 10 to 13 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with television sets. Each ratings point equals 14,950 homes in this market.

Despite the 5-7 record, Dolphins ratings are up slightly over last year’s 10.7 average rating, when Miami went 10-6.

The opener at New England produced a 13.2 rating, meaning 13.2 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets were tuned in. The rating dropped to 11.8 for the blowout loss to Buffalo in Week 2. The rating fell to a 10.1 for the game against Tampa, Miami’s fourth consecutive loss.

The fifth consecutive loss — against Jacksonville in London — drew a meager 8.5, largely because of the odd Sunday morning start time. The sixth loss in a row — against Atlanta — drew a 10.7. The seventh loss in a row (against Buffalo) produced a 12.3.

The win against Houston generated an 11.1. The Baltimore game — a second win in a row — produced a 12.5 rating between Fox and NFL Network, underwhelming for a prime time game in the home market.

The Jets-Dolphins game, Miami’s third win in a row, produced an 11.1. And Sunday’s game against Carolina produced a 12.9, second best this season behind the opener.

Now let’s be clear: Dolphins ratings are very strong for South Florida, where the TV audiences are splintered among English and Spanish stations. There are very few television programs that draw larger audiences here than Dolphins games.

But Dolphins ratings also remain worst in the NFL among markets with one (and not two) NFL teams.

Three factors behind that are the large number of Spanish-language homes; the large number of transplants from other markets and the fact the Dolphins haven’t won much of anything in 20 years.

As of mid-November, Miami-Fort Lauderdale’s 11.2 average rating for Dolphins games ranked fifth worst, behind the Giants (9.5), Chargers (8.7), Rams (10.0) and Jets (7.1).

Even the awful Jaguars (20.9) and Texans (13.5) draw a larger percentage of households in their home markets than the Dolphins do in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale. Even a second-year market, Las Vegas, draws a higher percentage of homes for Raiders games (16.4) than South Florida does for Dolphins games.

And the Dolphins never have generated anything close to the ratings produced in more than a dozen markets, including Buffalo (46.6), Milwaukee (41.4) Kansas City (44.1), New Orleans (40.2), Cleveland (36.6), Dallas (28.8) and Pittsburgh (36.2)....

ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky on Tua Tagovailoa on Tuesday: “Very rare does Tua hold the football.. He puts his foot in the ground and gets the ball out... The No. 1 thing I feel watching Tua play the last month is ‘what if.’

“What if you get that kid with an offensive line, what if you get him another receiver or two. I firmly believe, if that happens, if they do the right thing and protect him, then he becomes a Drew Brees type player.”...

Fox’s Chris Myers and Daryl Johnston call their fourth Dolphins game of the season on Sunday, against the Giants. Fox is sending the game to Miami-Ft. Lauderdale; West Palm Beach; New York City; Albany; Binghamton, Utica, Watertown and Elmira, NY; Buffalo; Rochester; Syracuse; Burlington, Vermont; Hartford; Honolulu ans Wilkes-Barre, Penn.

More than two years after launching, ACC Network finally struck a deal with Comcast on Tuesday, meaning every major cable system in the country now has the channel.

In South Florida, the number of homes that can get ACC Network has risen dramatically, with Atlantic Broadband coming on board in August and Comcast agreeing to terms this week.

DirecTV has one year remaining on its NFL Sunday Ticket deal, and commissioner Roger Goodell said out of market games — beginning in 2023 — will be available through a streaming service.

DirecTV, which pays the NFL $1.5 billion per year, reportedly might also keep Sunday Ticket rights beyond next season. But whether the league awards these games to DirecTV or another satellite or cable service, one thing is clear: The games will be available on your computer or Smartphone beginning in 2023.

The league has several appealing streaming options including Amazon Prime, ESPN Plus, NBC’s Peacock and CBS’ Paramount Plus. Apple also cannot be ruled out.

But Amazon and ESPN seem the front-runners. The New York Post cited Discovery/WarnerMedia as dark horse candidate to make a large bid to potentially put those games on HBOMax.

One big unresolved question is whether fans will be able to pay for a particular team’s games — an option never made available by the NFL — or whether they will be required to pay for every out of market game, which is how Sunday Ticket is structured.

For all of the fanfare that the Manning brothers cablecasts generate, far more people continue to watch the traditional broadcast on ESPN.

The Tampa Bay-Giants game drew 12 million viewers on ESPN, compared with 1.6 million for the Eli-Peyton version on ESPN2.

The remaining games for the Manning brothers haven’t been announced. ESPN hasn’t said if they will work Dolphins-Saints on Dec. 27.

Good to see ESPN’s Dick Vitale back courtside last week; at 82, he continues to work as he receives treatment for lymphoma.

“I didn’t want to cry,” Vitale said alongside play-by-play Dave O’Brien, the former Marlins announcer. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here. This is really a big thrill for me.” Doctors initially diagnosed Vitale with bile duct cancer but then determined that he instead had lymphoma, which is 90 percent curable....

Broncos-Chiefs replaced 49ers-Seahawks as the Sunday night NBC game this upcoming weekend. A case could have been made for Chargers-Bengals, too.

Bally Sports Florida is still in the early stages of its search to replace Marlins TV analyst Todd Hollandsworth, whose contract wasn’t renewed. Nobody has auditioned yet…

WSVN-Fox 7 lead sports anchor Josh Moser — hired a year ago to replace the retired Steve Shapiro — has been off the air for several weeks for reasons that he asked not be disclosed.

He is in no sort of trouble; he has neither been arrested nor suspended and he has no life-threatening medical condition.

Moser is expected back on the air at some point in the coming weeks.

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