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Friday Heat report and media column: Who's more popular here: Heat or Dolphins? Here's some data; Media notes

Please see the last post for a full Friday report about on-court Heat matters and LeBron's health. Meanwhile, here's the...

WEEKLY MEDIA COLUMN

The Heat commands most of the South Florida sports fan’s interest this time of year, as the Dolphins do during football season. But has the Heat, in winning two consecutive championships and bidding for a third, surpassed the Dolphins in overall local popularity?

There’s no magical formula to answer that, and it’s impossible to make a completely fair comparison because of the difference in venue capacity and number of games and the lack of any recent Dolphins playoff games to use as a measuring stick.

Here’s what we do know:

### Dolphins ratings keep falling and Heat ratings keep rising.

Even though the Dolphins were in playoff contention all season, their 17.1 average local rating last season was down from a 17.7 in 2012 and ranked lowest of any market with only one NFL team and the fourth-lowest overall behind Oakland, the Jets and Giants.

That means 17.1 percent of TV households in Miami-Dade and Broward counties tuned in a Dolphins game, on average, equal to 283,000 per game.

By comparison, the dreadful Jaguars averaged an 18.3 rating in Jacksonville and the Buccaneers a 19.0 in Tampa.

Conversely, Heat regular-season cable ratings were the third-highest in the country, behind only San Antonio and Oklahoma City, and averaged a 6.9 on Sun Sports – up 22 percent from 2012-13.

Keep in mind that nearly 10 percent of Dade/Broward TV homes do not have cable or satellite service, whereas all Dolphins games air on free TV.

Dolphins games almost always outdraw Heat regular season games by a substantial margin, which isn’t surprising considering there are 16 Dolphins games and 82 Heat games. There were a few exceptions the past two seasons.

But Heat playoffs versus Dolphins regular season is a different story, once the second round of the NBA postseason begins.

The average local Heat rating during the first round against Charlotte was a 15.5, less than the Dolphins’ 17.1 average local rating in 2013.

But the Heat-Nets second-round series averaged an 18.9 rating in Dade/Broward homes. On the night of the first round of the NFL Draft, 16.7 percent of local homes tuned to Game 2 of Heat-Nets, compared with 6.3 for the draft.

Locally, the Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals averaged a 23.4, easily surpassing Dolphins regular-season ratings. NBA Finals ratings assuredly will do the same, with Game 1 Thursday generating a 30.5 local rating.

### The Dolphins played to 85.5 percent capacity last season in terms of tickets sold, which was third-worst in the league (64,319 per game). The Heat, conversely, has sold out every game since LeBron James arrived.

### If you’re making the case that the Dolphins still command greater interest locally, this helps your argument:

Last year, there were 35.3 million page views for Dolphins/NFL content on The Herald’s site worldwide (10.8 percent from South Florida readers), compared with 13.1 million for Heat/NBA content (12.3 percent from South Florida readers).

And during the first four months of this year, the Herald’s web site had 201,132 unique local visitors for Heat/NBA stories, compared with 274,411 for Dolphins/NFL stories. Data is not available to distinguish Heat from non-Heat NBA stories.

And consider this: Last month, the Herald’s Dolphins blog drew 45 times as many worldwide hits as the Heat blog, though local numbers weren’t available and there were more Dolphins than Heat posts, which skews the numbers. (And in fairness, Heat content on this blog drew sizable readership.)

AROUND THE DIAL

### ABC’s 9.0 national rating Thursday tied for the second-highest for a Game 1 of an NBA Finals since 2004 and topped the 8.8 for the first game of last year’s Heat-Spurs series.

The 30.5 local rating ranked second among metered markets, with San Antonio first at 40.4. The rest of the top five: Austin (17.9), West Palm Beach (17.2) and Las Vegas (13.7).

### A year after preempting ABC’s NBA Finals pregame to carry its own program, WPLG-Channel 10 made the right decision by not repeating that mistake during these Finals. Station general manager Bert Medina, hired last October, is taking the viewer-friendly approach: airing a local show 60 minutes before tipoff and ABC’s national show 30 minutes before the game.

### Credit Doug Collins for elevating the quality of the ABC/ESPN studio show; the former coach doesn’t waste words and virtually every point he makes has merit.

For instance: When Sage Steele suggested the Thunder blowing a big lead in Game 4 against the Clippers was a case of complacency, Collins corrected her.

“It’s not complacency,” he said. “It’s bad habits,” going on to explain how OKC has this proclivity, at times, to stand around while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook try to win the game on their own.

### Shane Battier decided to accept a college basketball analyst job at ESPN instead of waiting to see if he would land a network NBA job. ESPN hasn’t decided which college conference to assign him.

### Personnel moves: Marv Albert is leaving CBS’ NFL coverage to reduce his workload. He will continue to announce the NBA for TNT and college basketball for CBS and Turner… Fox, which dropped Brian Billick as an NFL game analyst, hired former Giants offensive lineman David Diehl to replace him…. Adam Zucker will replace Tim Brando in CBS’ college football studio. Brando, who left CBS in January, this week took a college basketball play-by-play job with the new SEC Network. 

### Please see the last post for on-court Heat news from Friday... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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