Updated Thursday at 6 p.m. from original post of Wednesday morning based on KCBS changes in schedule:
One of the NFL’s seemingly etched-in-stone commandments concerning the protection of a local team’s TV market is the all-out prevention if possible of another game coming into to go head-to-head on a competing network.
Meaning, when the Rams take on San Francisco at the Coliseum on Saturday at 1:25 p.m. (not Christmas Sunday this week), Fox’s KTTV-Channel 11 should expect no other NFL game on CBS in that afternoon slot. Both networks try to stock up on games in the early and afternoon window to accommodate this situation for every market each weekend.
Except there now appears to be an exception that could set some precedent if only to keep L.A. content.
KCBS-Channel 2, the CBS affiliate contractually bound to air Chargers games as the franchise claims L.A. as its secondary TV market and, by all indications, may be moving north to actually be in the market in 2017, will not carry San Diego’s 10 a.m. game at Cleveland as originally planned. A 5-9 vs. 0-14 matchup shouldn’t be watched by anyone, but rules are rules.
Instead, a KCBS spokesman confirmed Wednesday night they have been given permission by the NFL to not only drop the Chargers but, instead of another 10 a.m. window game, they can carry the Oakland Raiders’ home game against Indianapolis at 1:05 p.m.
Up against the 4-10 Rams, losers of five straight, against the 1-13 49ers, whose only win was in Week 1 against the Rams on a Monday night.
Last week, the rumblings out of Cleveland was that so few in that city wanted to watch their winless Browns have to face Buffalo (the Bills won 33-13), they lobbied their local CBS affiliate to instead air the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game, featuring the other Ohio team. That didn’t happen whether or not you want to believe that discussion actually took place.
We aren’t aware of any sort of “please switch us away from the Chargers” card played by some L.A. viewers here. And having the Raiders, no matter what time slot, always seems to work for KCBS in the past.
The ability to delete the Chargers from the schedule here might have merit, but it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. Last Sunday, KCBS seemed OK with the Chargers (as long as they were playing the Raiders) while most of the country saw a much more important New England-Denver matchup.
There have been four instances this season where the Rams had TV competition on a Sunday. It happened only when Fox could only show a single game, had to take the Rams, and CBS had the doubleheader rights and had to take the Chargers.
The last was in Week 12 (Thanksgiving weekend), where Fox’s Rams-New Orleans was up against San Diego-Houston on KCBS. In Week 9, the Rams playing host to Carolina on Fox was opposite the Chargers-Tennessee on KCBS in the afternoon. In Week 3, the Rams-Tampa Bay game on Fox went up against San Diego-Indianapolis on KCBS, again in the afternoon.
Only one time so far was a Chargers option not available to CBS.
In Week 11, CBS has a double-header, the Chargers had a bye week, so it took New England-San Francisco against Rams-Miami on Fox in the afternoon window strange, since Miami at anywhere should have been a CBS game).
The Raiders, who held ground in L.A. from 1982-94, continue to draw, and outdraw, the Rams on TV, and this should be no different.
In a statement by the Rams on Thursday afternoon, they seem OK with this development.
“Since receiving approval to move back home to Los Angeles, we knew that other NFL games would air in the same window as Rams games. In fact, this will be the fifth time this season this has happened. With more than 10 million people in L.A. County, this region is filled with not only Rams fans but also fans of other NFL teams who are used to seeing the best games each week. We are pleased our fans can tune into Fox to see our historic rivalry when we host the San Francisco 49ers at the Coliseum on Saturday.”
Here’s how the weekend now lays out — eight games over four days, Fox has the doubleheader — with most avoiding a Christmas Day Sunday encounter and opting out for an early weekend:
== N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia, 5:25 p.m., Channel 4, NFL Network (Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth)
== Minnesota at Green Bay, 10 a.m., Channel 11 (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman). This goes to 71 percent of the country, skipping past Washington-Chicago and Atlanta-Carolina.
== Rams vs. San Francisco at the Coliseum, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11 (Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, going to a meager 10 percent of the country). You miss out on Arizona-Seattle (going to 23 percent) and Tampa Bay-New Orleans (going to 66 percent with Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston) in this window.
== Indianapolis at Oakland, 1:05 p.m., Channel 2 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms). This means CBS won’t be showing anything at 10 a.m. including San Diego-Cleveland (Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots), N.Y. Jets-New England, Tennessee-Jacksonville or Miami-Buffalo.
== Cincinnati at Houston, 5:30 p.m., NFL Network (Kevin Harland, Rich Gannon)
== Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 1:30 p.m., NFL Network (Mike Tirico, Doug Flutie)
== Denver at Kansas City, 5:30 p.m., Channel 4 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth)
== Detroit at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden)