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Friday media column: Mixed news on Heat ratings, CBS hopeful about Dolphins



Whereas the Heat remains a network darling, the Dolphins now sit at the opposite end of the spectrum --- one of eight teams deemed worthy of only one full (non-regional) national TV appearance in 2012. But the president of CBS Sports voices optimism that the Dolphins can reverse fortunes and once again become a formidable TV draw.(More on that in a minute.)

The Heat, of course, has no such concern. Consider: ABC will have televised eight playoff games by Sunday, with four of those involving Miami, compared with only one for the Lakers. ABC’s two highest-rated playoff games so far have featured the Heat, and seven of the 10 most-watched NBA games on cable during the regular season involved Miami.

But Heat-Pacers, early on, isn’t capturing America’s fascination as much as Lakers-Oklahoma City. Perhaps that will change on ABC on Sunday, with the nation’s curiosity now piqued by the Heat trailing 2-1.

Consider that Game 2 of the Heat series on TNT drew a 2.9 national rating (4.5 million viewers), compared with a 4.3 (6.7 million viewers) for Game 1 of the Lakers series. And ABC’s 5.2 rating for Game 1 of Heat-Pacers trailed the 7.0 for Game 1 of the Heat-Celtics second-round series last year.

Locally, the 16.1 for Game 1 of Heat-Pacers on WPLG-ABC 10 trailed the 17.4 for Game 4 of Heat-Knicks.

### As for the Dolphins, to demonstrate how much they have declined as a national TV draw, consider that not a single Dolphins game outside of the Pacific Time Zone will be played at 4 p.m. Raiders-Dolphins originally was scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Sept. 16 but was moved because of the Jewish holiday. Even so, CBS always intended to make Steelers-Jets the primary late game that day.

The NFL, for the first time, is requiring every team be given at least one full national TV appearance. The NFL decided to have six of the eight one-appearance teams play each other, just to get them out of the way. That’s why NFL Network has Buccaneers-Vikings, Colts-Jaguars and Dolphins-Bills during a stretch of four Thursdays in late October through mid November. Cleveland and St. Louis also received only one full national game.

Of those eight teams, the Dolphins have the most national drawing potential – if they start winning.

“Miami is a really important team to us and has a big impact on us and our ratings,” CBS Sports president Sean McManus said. “They have great tradition, can be a national team when they are competitive.

“Knowing how committed Stephen Ross is to putting a winning team on the field, when that does happen, it will make the AFC on CBS that much stronger. The more competitive the teams are in the AFC East, the better it is for CBS. I have faith Mr. Ross will figure out a way to get that done.”

Despite the Dolphins’ loss in luster, keep in mind that not a single Heat playoff game so far this spring has topped the 17.7 average local rating for Dolphins games last season. But that will change at some point in the playoffs.


### Adam Kuperstein on Thursday was promoted to lead news co-anchor, with Jackie Nespral, on NBC 6’s 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. The station said it will begin a search for a new No. 2 sportscaster to back up Joe Rose. Freelancer Kristina Pink, who has been filling in, is a candidate. NBC 6 said Kuperstein will be permitted to continue co-hosting his WQAM weekday afternoon radio show with Steve Goldstein.

### ABC announced it will regionally televise UM’s football opener at Boston College at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 1; UM’s home opener Sept. 15 against Bethune Cookman will be televised at noon on ESPN3 (Internet). No TV info has been announced for UM’s second game, Sept. 8 at Kansas State.

### TBS was awarded rights to MLB’s two newly-created wild card playoff games. MLB Network will air two games in the divisional round, with TBS carrying all the other games in those four series.

### Michelle Beadle, who achieved terrific chemistry with Colin Cowherd on ESPN’s SportsNation, reportedly will nearly triple her annual salary (to $750,000) by moving to NBC. Her new duties include an unspecified role on NBC Sports Network, appearances on NBC’s Today Show and Olympic coverage and a reporting role on Access Hollywood.

### CBS believes it will have a newsier edge by adding NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora to replace former general manager Charley Casserly on its pregame show. But we’ll miss the no-nonsense, professorial style of Casserly; aside from NBC’s Tony Dungy, nobody on the pregame shows was better dissecting tape. Casserly’s pre-draft segments on NFL Network were consistently exceptional, and he will retain a role there.

### WQAM-560 struck a new deal for UM radio rights through 2016-17… The station dropped producer Marc Eisenberg, who made frequent on-air appearances.

Please see our last post for a look at a very emotional day at UM. We'll have Heat and Dolphins blogs during the weekend.