Also per The Nielson people, the Tampa Bay area is the 13th largest in the country as a media market. FLL-MIA is listed as #17.
Media market is no way to judge a city's size. Tampa's media market covers a much larger area because they are the only major city in a large area. South Florida has two media markets, Miami and West Palm Beach, that divide South Florida. Miami's CMSA is somewhere around 3.85M. Tampa's CMSA is not 3.2M.
The figures do not show that FLL is a better market than TPA to LAX, SFO, LAS.
Actually, those figures do show that FLL is a better market to LAX. Most of Ft. Lauderdale's LAX/SFO/LAS traffic goes through MIA. MIA has seven dailies to LAX, three to LAS (will be six by March), and four to SFO, plus SEA and YVR. FLL just has one to LAS and two to LAX.
As far as popualation goes the Tampa Bay area has a population of 3,205,996 as of the census of 2000. These numbers are from the State of Florida web site.
You are about 1,000,000 off (and so if the State of Florida website). The Tampa-St. Petersburg CMSA has 2,395,997 residents as of Census 2000. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale is 3,876,380, and when it merges with Palm Beach in 2004 (assuming the merger goes through as expected; the total land area of Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Palm Beach CMSA will still be smaller than Tampa-St. Peterburg), it will be at just over 5,000,000.