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Media column: Marlins ratings plunge; NFL/Fins TV changes; radio news; new ESPN movies


Asking and answering media queries from the couch:

### How precipitously have Marlins’ TV ratings plunged?

Even more than the drop in attendance. Last season, through late June, 2.3 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets had tuned into Marlins games, on average, on Fox Sports Florida.

This season, through late June, it was less than half that: 1.1 percent per cablecast, equal to a 1.1 rating and 17,832 homes.

Conversely, regular-season Heat games on Sun Sports averaged a 7.14 rating in Dade/Broward this past season, or 115,747 homes per cablecast. That's more than three times the 2.0 average Marlins rating for all of last season.

The good news for Fox on the Marlins' front? Tuesday's Braves game produced a 2.2 -- the highest Marlins rating this season. So the team's recent surge --- and the end of the Heat's playoff run --- are helping lure at least some viewers back. And Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton continue to do good work.

### Who’s replacing fired Dan Sileo on WQAM’s UM football postgame show?

Former Hurricanes and Ravens cornerback Duane Starks, who assuredly will not spew the type of venomous rants that cost Sileo his UM gig.

Sileo, meanwhile, continues his on-air audition on WMEN-640 this week. General manager Steve Lapa said he will create a weekday slot for Sileo if there’s positive feedback to his work.

### What NFL broadcast changes can we expect this season?

Fox won’t name a No. 2 announcing team behind Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, but look for the network to give marquee games to a new broadcast pairing: play-by-player Kevin Burkhardt, a New York Mets TV reporter who has called NFL games on radio and former NFL safety John Lynch, who teamed with Dick Stockton last season on Fox. They often will be joined by Erin Andrews, who will do NFL sideline reporting regularly for the first time, in addition to anchoring Fox’s college football studio show.

After the regular season, Fox will decide which broadcast team will work the playoff game that Buck and Aikman do not. Burkhardt and Lynch have a good shot if they’re as good as Fox expects.

Last year, Fox – for the first time in many years – didn’t give a playoff game to Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, instead choosing Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick.

But Billick unraveled late in that assignment, first by oddly and illogically suggesting that Seattle – at the Atlanta 28 and down by six with 44 seconds left – might consider kicking a field goal and then trying an onside kick. After the game ended, Billick said Seattle won. (Uh, no, Atlanta did.)

CBS has better depth among NFL game analysts: Phil Simms, Dan Dierdorf, Dan Fouts and Rich Gannon, in particular.

But Lynch has potential. Working with Stockton, he displayed a willingness to criticize and a more pleasant delivery than Johnston’s repetitive, humorless, cliché-ridden approach.

Other changes: Ray Lewis joins ESPN's studio....Ronde Barber is in line to replace Lynch as Stockton’s partner on regional games… Scott Pioli, dumped as Kansas City Chiefs general manager, joins the cast of NBC’s Sunday night studio show.

### With Stockton unable to do the Dolphins’ preseason TV package this year, what do you think of Jesse Agler getting the gig?

I like the move. Agler, who anchors the Dolphins’ weeknight radio show on 940-WINZ, was alert and detailed in his call while filling in for Jimmy Cefalo on a few preseason games on radio. He’s viewed as a potential long-term option to succeed Cefalo, but he needs to ace this assignment to remain so.

### What’s going on with Fox’s search to replace Tim McCarver, who is leaving the job after the World Series?

No front-runner has emerged, but Harold Reynolds and Eric Karros will be among those considered. Reynolds has revived his career at MLB Network after being fired by ESPN for sexual harassment in 2006. Two former Braves – John Smoltz and Chipper Jones – also would be worth auditioning.

Smoltz, whose commentary is cogent but a bit wordy, recently was demoted from TBS’ lead team to its No. 2 team. (Ron Darling was promoted to Fox’s lead group, with Cal Ripken and Ernie Johnson Jr.)

### Speaking of TBS, will the Keith Olbermann/Turner marriage last longer than some of his other jobs?

The talented but temperamental Olbermann has a history of burning bridges --– he left ESPN, Fox, MSNBC and Current on less than good terms.

But he might be able to stick around for awhile as TBS’ new playoff baseball host because the gig consumes less than 30 days a year – Olbermann cracked that all of his jobs have lasted at least that long – and, frankly, he’s running out of networks that will hire him.

“This is perfect for me on many different levels,” he said. “Baseball is my passion. Last season, I did this at home to the TV by myself. Now there will be people watching.”

### What does ESPN’s decision to eliminate its 3-D network mean about the platform’s future?

It could spell the end – at least for the foreseeable future – for use of the technology on televised sports. 3-D remains popular in theatres; 36 movies were released in 3-D last year, with revenues flat. But with the evolution of high definition television, TV viewers have shown little appetite to wear special glasses to watch sports.

### What are some of the movies ESPN plans to roll out in its newest “30 for 30” installment?

The Roberto Duran/Sugar Ray Leonard rivalry will be chronicled Oct. 1, and a November debut is scheduled for “The Whack Heard Round The World” – retelling the story of Tonya Harding arranging to have rival figure skater Nancy Kerrigan clubbed in the knee during a practice session before the 1994 Olympics. “The Bad Boys,” reflecting on the Isiah Thomas/Bill Laimbeer/Rick Mahorn Detroit Pistons, is due out next spring.

Two others ESPN films in production that intrigue us: On former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, who served prison time for robbery; and John Spano, who somehow gained control of the New York Islanders in 1996 before being exposed as a con man who grossly exaggerated his net worth, then served two prison sentences for fraud.

For some non-media, on-field news items, please see the last post.


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Hey Barry,
Good Morning and Happy Holiday. I wanted to ask why doesnt the Heat have their own TV network? I have read other teams have them but not us? I am sure we would make more money to help offset the taxes of the NBA. Just curious...........

Barry Jackson

Kevin, the Heat has never shown interest in starting its own network. Their current contract runs two more years.



Gone is the familiar seal that depicted the location of each member school on a map of the Eastern Seaboard. Gone are the words “Atlantic Coast Conference.” The new logo is simply three large blue letters: ACC.

It is no longer an acronym. It is now simply a name identifying the league, which is appropriate considering that the “Atlantic Coast” – at least in this case – now extends some 900 miles inland to South Bend, Ind.

If only the cosmetic change of logos was the most significant consequence brought about by the widening of Swofford’s “footprint.”

Of greater concern is the league’s systematic drift away from its roots. It’s a shift that is as tangible as a football schedule rotation that has traditional rivals UNC and Wake Forest, along with N.C. State and Duke playing only twice every dozen years, and as subtle as Swofford’s sudden obsession with all things New York.

In the past week alone, the commissioner has worked out a deal with the Pinstripe Bowl, thrown out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, climbed to the top of the Empire State Building with his league’s mascots and rung the closing bell at a stock exchange. It’s only a matter of time before he signs off on moving the ACC’s signature event – its men’s basketball tournament – from Greensboro to Madison Square Garden.

Now that he’s seen the big city, he has no plans to return to Mayberry. It’s almost as if the Big East absorbed the ACC instead of the other way around.
-- Brett Friedlander




Conference Football Championship - North Carolina
Conference Basketball Championship - New York
Post Season Major Bowl Game - Florida

This way we hit everything.
-- omniorange




Root Sports, which telecasts Pirates and Penguins games, announced a partnership with the ACC to televise 140 live events, including Pitt football and basketball. That's on top of the ACC's 15-year, $3.6 billion contract with ESPN that will bring more than $17 million annually to each school.
-- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

the Notre Dame announcement also allowed the league to renegotiate its TV deal with ESPN.

The 14 football members will receive an average of more than $20 million annually, a person familiar with the situation said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league isn’t releasing the financial details of the TV deal.

Notre Dame will get a basketball share worth about 20 percent of the ACC’s TV package — roughly between $3 million and $4 million — because of its football partnership with NBC.

The per-school payouts are up from an average of $16.9 million for 12 teams for the 2011 tax year with adjustments for bowl revenue and other compensation, according to the league’s Form 990 tax filing.

The league is also researching the creation of its own TV channel.
-- news-record.com



Anything is better than Cefalo. Literally anything - a freaking dog barking would be better than Cefalo's fake growl, corny forced jokes, or all too common faux pas. Seriously, any play by play guy that makes the mistake of saying the ball is on the 52 yard line should be fired immediately if not executed. Christ the man played the game (sort of)!

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Barry - not sure why you're so dismissive of the idea, even if the Heat haven't "shown interest" in a TV deal I guarantee they're interested and pursuing it.

Of course it would be hard to find a partner until and unless LeBron resigns but there is literally no way the Miami Heat can continue to field rosters like the one they had last season without a huge new stream of revenue or Micky Arison paying many tens of millions of his personal money.


WizJinx....couldn't agree more about Cefalo....that phony growl makes me wince every time....and speaking of obnoxious noise, am I the only one who finds the voice of Erin Andrews to be like nails on a chalkboard?

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