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Raiders Still Winners -- in Ratings

Times Staff Writer

Sometimes you wonder what the people involved in making programming decisions at CBS’ Channel 2 are thinking.

Because it is Fox’s turn to show an NFL doubleheader on Sunday, Channel 2 gets only one game. Seemingly, the smart thing to do would be to select a 10 a.m. game, such as the Buffalo Bills against the undefeated Chicago Bears. Showing a 1 p.m. game means it will go head-to-head against the much-anticipated game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles on Fox. There’s also a possibility the Dodgers will be playing the Mets at 1 p.m. on ESPN if that series goes to four games.

But the good folks at Channel 2 have decided once again to show the winless Raiders, this time against the 1-3 San Francisco 49ers -- despite the fact it is a 1 p.m. game

There is at least a little logic here. Channel 2 points to the ratings as its motivation.

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The previously winless Cleveland Browns’ 24-21 comeback victory over the Raiders last Sunday at 1 p.m. got an 8.8 rating and a 21 share in L.A. That edged out the San Diego Chargers’ earlier 16-13 loss at Baltimore, which got a 7.5 rating and a 20 share.

The Raiders game was the highest-rated program on television Sunday in the L.A. market among men 18 to 49.

What is the attraction? The Raiders are not only losing, they have become fodder for late-night television. Did you hear Jay Leno the other night talking about that Michigan high school that dropped football after being outscored, 164-0? “The NFL said they’re thinking about doing the same thing with the Raiders,” Leno said.

Jim Steeg, the Chargers’ chief operating officer, believes he knows the attraction. “It’s all those devout Chargers fans in L.A. watching just to see the Raiders.”

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If Channel 2 ever had to make a choice between the Raiders and Chargers -- and amazingly there are no situations this season where that is the case -- the station would have to pick the Chargers. The NFL considers them to be in the L.A. market because Channel 2’s signal reaches within a 75-mile radius of San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium.

Steeg believes the Chargers, who play host to the Steelers on NBC Sunday night, are already L.A.'s team. He points to the fact that a record of more than 1,000 people in this market took the train to San Diego to see the Chargers’ home opener against Tennessee, and that about 15% of the team’s season-ticket holders come from this area.

Channel 2 spokesman Mike Nelson, explaining the Raiders’ popularity in L.A., said, “We live in a unique community -- a melting pot for NFL fans with a diverse mix of people who are interested in following a number of teams.”

But L.A., traditionally, likes teams that win, and the Raiders haven’t been doing much of that lately.

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Short Waves

Game 3 of the Dodgers-Mets series will be played at 5:05 p.m. Saturday and televised by Fox, with Thom Brennaman and Tim McCarver announcing. If there is a Game 4, it will be at either 1 p.m. or 5:15 p.m. Sunday, depending on the status of the New York Yankees-Detroit Tigers series. If that series is still going, the Dodgers and Mets play at 1 p.m. on ESPN. If not, they play at 5:15 on Fox.

It took a while, but ESPN did a nice job during Game 1 of the Dodgers-Mets series of finding footage of a New York Yankees-Chicago White Sox game played Aug. 2, 1985, when Carlton Fisk, the White Sox catcher, tagged out two runners at home plate on the same play. The Mets’ Paul Lo Duca did it in the second inning Wednesday. The footage of Fisk tagging out the Yankees’ Bobby Meacham and Dale Berra was shown in the sixth.

It’s believed that high-definition television can help make hockey a more popular sport, and viewers with HD capabilities can check it out tonight. The FSN Prime Ticket coverage of the Kings-Ducks game will be in HD, the first of 10 HD Ducks telecasts this season. Also, 10 Kings home games will be televised in HD, as will 26 of Versus’ 54 national NHL telecasts.

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larry.stewart@latimes.com


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