Though Channel 2's news programs trail in the ratings race, its sports product is consistently solid and the Al Jerkens-hosted ``Sports Extra'' on Sunday nights (10:25-11) has been Tulsa television's most comprehensive sports report.
Beginning on Sept. 6, ``Sports Extra'' takes on two new challengers -- Channel 6's expanded ``Sunday Sports Special,'' hosted by Scott Higgins from 10:25- 11; and Channel 8's ``You Make The Call'' (10:35- 11:05), during which host Mike Ziegenhorn takes live calls from viewers.
``Competition never hurt anybody,'' Jerkens said. ``It'll give us a little kick.''
According to Nielsen ratings formulated following the July sweeps period and provided to the Tulsa World by Channel 6, an estimated 100,000 viewers watched Channel 8 during the 10:15- 10:30 window on Sunday nights, while 99,000 watched Channel 6 and 38,000 were tuned to Channel 2. During the 10:30-10:45 window, when ``Sports Extra'' was head-to- head with the ``Sunday Sports Special,'' Channel 2's estimated audience was 24,000 and Channel 6's was 49,000.
Considering that an estimated 310,000 Tulsa-market viewers were watching television at 10 o'clock on weeknights during the ratings period, the Sunday night, 10:30-11 pool of viewers is relatively shallow. But all three stations are willing to spend extra effort in order to cater to sports fans.
``When I was working in Little Rock, one station in town did a show like we're about to debut, and I never missed it. I always thought it was good,'' said Pat Baldwin, Channel 8's general manager. ``If we were just out to do a highlights show, there wouldn't be any point to it because Al Jerkens already has a good show, and Channel 6 has a show that is heavy in highlights. And then you also have ESPN and Fox Sports and CNN Sports.
``Our call-in format is something a little different, something that allows the viewer to participate and express an opinion. I think we'll find our niche.''
Jerkens admitted to having been ``a little offended'' by Higgins' recent comment that Channel 6's Sunday night show is ``quality'' while Channel 2's is ``quantity.''
``That statement is false,'' Jerkens said. ``It's up to the viewer to decide what is quality, but we take pride in being the station that has done `Sports Extra' for eight years.''
Coming attractions: Television schedule for the NFL's opening weekend: at noon on Sunday, Sept. 6, Pittsburgh-Baltimore on Channel 6; at 3 p.m., Arizona-Dallas on KOKI cable 5-channel 23 and New York Jets-San Francisco on Channel 6. ESPN's Sunday night matchup has Oakland at Kansas City, and Channel 8's Monday night opener is New England at Denver.
Carpenter's choices: Tulsa's Bob Carpenter produced last week's most widely played national sound bite with his ``SEE...YOU...LATER!'' call of Mark McGwire's 53rd home run. Carpenter, in the fourth season of his second stint of St. Louis Cardinal play-by-play, says if the baseball season ended now, he would award Cy Young trophies to Atlanta's Greg Maddux and New York's David Cone.
Carpenter's American League MVP: ``If Texas wins the AL West, then I'd probably pick Juan Gonzalez because of his monster RBI production and because he would have carried a division champion on his back. If Boston gets the wild card, I might have to look at Mo Vaughn. I think it's a tribute to the Yankees that they don't really have an MVP type of guy, but they're having an amazing season. They're just a monster as a team.''
National League MVP: ``If Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa breaks the home run record, then either guy would be the player of the year. But the award is called MVP, not player of the year, so my vote would probably go to Moises Alou of the Astros. He's gotten every kind of big hit imaginable for Houston.''
Carpenter is scheduled to guest on Channel 2's ``Sports Extra'' Sunday night.
The McGwire watch: With the involvement of McGwire and the universally popular Braves, Sunday's 7 p.m. Atlanta-St. Louis game should result in a huge audience for ESPN. The network's three highest-rated baseball telecasts are the Home Run Derby that preceded this year's All-Star Game, a 1991 Giants-Dodgers game and a Yankees-Mets game played this season on June 28.
Not very smart: The college football season opened on Saturday with two games -- Louisiana Tech-Nebraska on Fox Sports Southwest and Colorado State-Michigan State on ESPN2. Too bad someone at either network didn't exercise some common sense. Because both games began at 3 p.m., neither had as much audience as it could have had.
Tulsa who? As the Tulsa market is without a local daily radio sports talk show for the first time in 22 years, listeners are left only with the simulcast on KTRT am1270 of Oklahoma City's ``Sports Animal'' programming. OU and OSU are discussed to an extreme, but if you're wanting conversation about TU or ORU, or any matter of specific interest to Tulsans, then forget it. To hosts of ``Sports Animal'' shows, Tulsa, Okla., might as well be Tulsa, Maine.
And until ``Sports Animal'' officials do something to strengthen their signal here, their network will never become an important presence.
Oilers on television: The Tulsa Oilers have reached a tentative agreement with TCI Cablevision to have at least two 1998-99 home games televised live. The Oilers have retained KTFX fm102.3 as their radio home.
Monday--Florida State vs. Texas A&M, 7 p.m., KTUL channel 8.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Sunday--Pittsburgh at Houston, 1:30 p.m., FSS cable 39. Atlanta at St. Louis, 7 p.m., ESPN cable 25.
Sunday--Senior Bank of Boston Classic, 1:30 p.m., ESPN cable 25. PGA World Series of Golf, 3 p.m., KOTV channel 6. U.S. Amateur Championship, 3 p.m., KJRH
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