Dolphins’ success doesn’t produce jump in viewership. And NFL, Dolphins TV news

Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Dolphins — even with Sunday’s loss at the 49ers — have created renewed enthusiasm in South Florida after years of mediocrity.

But if there’s increased interest in the team, it’s not showing up in the ratings.

The Dolphins’ game against San Francisco produced an 11.8 local rating, not much higher than most Dolphins games the past several years. That means 11.8 percent of Miami-Dade/Broward homes were tuned in.

The Dolphins’ win against Houston drew just 9.4 percent of Dade-Broward homes, which is very poor by NFL home team standards (excluding two market teams).

Dolphins’ local ratings always have ranked among the worst among the NFL’s home markets, partly because of the large number of transplants in South Florida, and partly because a sizable percentage of homes in the market watch Spanish television. This season’s success hasn’t changed that.

Though this time last year, Dolphins games were averaging an 11.2; this year’s numbers are similar.

As for the NFL’s decision to place the Dolphins-Bills game on Saturday night, Dec. 17 on NFL Network instead of Sunday night, Dec. 18 on NBC, an industry source said the league wanted to give exposure to playoff contenders Washington and the Giants in the Dec. 18 NBC prime time slot and noted that the Dolphins are on NBC this weekend and the Bills have had six national TV appearances.

CBS-4 will carry the Dolphins-Bills game locally. In other parts of the country, it will be available only on NFL Network, which is in 53 million of the nation’s 122.4 million homes.

Fox agreed to loan announcers Kevin Kugler and Mark Sanchez to NFL Network to call Dolphins-Bills. Kugler and Sanchez typically get the fourth- or fifth-best game on Fox each week.

THIS AND THAT

ESPN will get to dump poor November and December Monday night games as part of a new flex scheduling element beginning next season, and it couldn’t happen soon enough.

The schedule, during the past five weeks, included four games that seemed better matchups before the season than they turned out to be: Ravens-Saints, 49ers-Cardinals, Steelers-Colts and Saints-Buccaneers (which at least had an exciting finish).

New Orleans, Arizona and to an extent, Tampa Bay have had disappointing seasons.

ESPN’s next three games also are worse than one might have expected before the season: Patriots-Cardinals, Rams-Packers and Chargers-Colts.

ESPN has a strong Jan. 2 finale with Bills-Bengals, then will carry two Saturday games (to be announced) on Jan. 7, to kick off Week 17.

Amazon’s schedule also has been a bit worse than expected, including a Colts-Broncos snoozefest and a Houston-Philadelphia game that was played at the same time that the Astros and Phillies played Game 5 of the World Series.

Raiders-Rams, this week, was a far worse matchup than could have been expected, though Baker Mayfield’s late heroics at least made it interesting.

Amazon’s remaining games include two good ones: San Francisco-Seattle next week and Dallas-Tennessee on Dec. 29, with a lackluster Jacksonville-Jets game in between.

Incidentally, Amazon will get a Black Friday NFL game — the Friday after Thanksgiving — next season and potentially beyond.

Tom Brady will become Fox’s lead NFL analyst when he retires. Will he be critical of players, as Charles Barkley has been on TNT’s NBA coverage?

Brady discussed that issue with Barkley during a podcast, asserting that he won’t be hesitant to criticize.

“I think part of it is, I had 23 seasons professionally,” Brady said. “When I watch football now, the only thing I see — you know, nine out of 10 is ‘that was a really bad play.’ As opposed to the ‘wow,’ the spectacular play that [Patrick] Mahomes made or the spectacular play that Josh Allen made.

“Now, it’s like, ‘Man, what a bad defensive play. . . . What a bad play by the quarterback.’ When you play with Randy Moss, when you play with Wes Welker, when you play with [Rob] Gronkowski and [Julian] Edelman and Mike Evans, you see greatness. And there’s a very [high] standard for perfection that I want to see the game played at. Because I value the sport, I value the coordination of this incredible chess match that’s happening, the play within every play.

“And I just feel like there’s probably more Johnny Miller in me, where when I used to watch him on golf telecasts, he would — it was just scathing sometimes. ‘What, that guy choked under pressure?’ or whatever. That’s essentially how I end up seeing the game a lot now. Not that I want to be negative, but I do want to point out — and [Patriots coach Bill] Belichick taught this to me a lot — it’s hard to win a game in the NFL, there’s more games lost in the NFL than they’re won.

“If you don’t screw it up, you’ve got a great chance to win. Because most people do just mess it up. If you do the basic fundamentals of what the sport is, with blocking, tackling, rushing the quarterback, blocking for the quarterback, catching the ball, throwing, kicking the ball properly, you can do really well in the sport. Proven by that Patriot system all those years.”

Brady expressed admiration for Barkley’s willingness to be authentic.

“There’s very few people who say what they feel and get away with it,” Brady told Barkley.

Former UM and NFL tight end Greg Olsen will move from Fox’s lead team to the No. 2 team when Brady retires from football and begins working for Fox. Brady will be paired with Kevin Burkhardt, who will call this year’s Super Bowl with Olsen.

Apple takes over broadcast rights to MLS games beginning next season, and the streaming service will offer every game in a subscription priced at $14.99 per month during the season or $99 for the entire season.

As part of the move to Apple, MLS is streamlining its schedule. Matches will primarily take place on Saturdays and Wednesdays, with a few matches held on Sundays.

CBS’ Jim Nantz told Sports Illustrated’s media podcast that he will remain the network’s lead NFL and golf announcer for a “long, long time,” but will relinquish his college basketball play-by-play duties, by choice, after this season’s Final Four in his hometown of Houston. Ian Eagle will succeed him on CBS’ lead college basketball team.

“I’ve done it a long time,” Nantz said. “I feel really good about someone else getting the chance to do it too.”

The Dolphins, then the Heat, then UM basketball and then the Panthers get that order of priority on WQAM, which is trying to accommodate a handful of teams on one signal after sister station 790 The Ticket transition to Spanish talk. A bunch of games have been moved to the company’s FM stations, including WPOW-96.5.

Here’s my Friday piece with a look at 10 nuanced metrics in a Tua Tagovailoa/Justin Herbert comparison and my informal poll of evaluators about which quarterback would be selected first in a re-draft.