As the NFL players decided to end their strike yesterday, television network officials and advertisers expressed concern whether the effects on viewing levels will be as great as after the 57-day 1982 strike.

Opinion is largely divided -- the networks are fairly optimistic and advertising specialists are not.

"Our anticipation is our ratings are going to hold up once the regular players are back," said NBC Sports' executive vice president, Ken Schanzer. "In the end, the viewers will come back. I'm very optimistic that ratings will rebound."

"My fear from the beginning of the strike," said Jon Mandel of the Grey advertising agency in New York, "is that there's a hidden cost. If America doesn't come back to watch games next weekend, we have a problem on our hand. I think the sham games made things worse. It made the viewing public believe that even the league didn't care about its integrity, and people are thinking, 'You think you can put one over on us. What do you think we are, idiots?' "

CBS' director of program analysis, Linda Levens, expressed concern about the recovery time for ratings, but remained hopeful.

"It took us about three years to recover fully last time, but this was a shorter-lived strike with some football in there," she said. "The first {regular} week back will tell us a lot. I think you'll see some more leveling off in the numbers {for replacement games this weekend}, but then it's hard to say. I do think there's a core of the country that wants football, and it's football time of year."

Paul Isacsson of the Young & Rubicam agency in New York said there would be a ratings backlash, but less than in 1982. "Fifty-seven days has a bigger impact than 24 days," he said. "I think there will be some fallout in viewers' attitudes because of the sham games. But I'm just going by the law of physics -- it wasn't as big of an action this time so it shouldn't be as big of a reaction."

CBS Sports President Neal Pilson declined comment.

The costs of the strike were severe, but network officials have said that the league would provide "economic relief" to make up for lost advertising revenue. The three networks pay the NFL about $21 million a week for regular season games; industry analysts estimate that NFL games attract between $20 million and $25 million a week in ad revenue for the networks. The losses, then, break down this way, according to analysts:

For the weekend of Sept. 27-28, when games were canceled, the networks lost between $20 million and $25 million in ad revenue (although some ad dollars were redirected into other network programming).

For each of the past two weeks, when replacement games were played, the networks lost between $6 million and $10 million in ad revenue.

This coming weekend, network ad losses might be slightly lower than the past two weeks, with some sponsors returning in anticipation of larger audiences.

Although the networks stand to gain if the regular players return this weekend, network officials contacted yesterday at NBC and CBS said they had not lobbied the league to get the union teams back on the field immediately. Officials of both networks said they have stayed on the sidelines from the beginning of the dispute.

As in '82, the question remains how deep the wounds are from a strike almost nobody wanted.

"It's hurt the networks and it's hurt the advertisers who had to go to other marketing plans to get out their product," Mandel said. "Plus, the networks are going to lose even more money than they have already. Let's say I'm an advertiser with an understanding I'll get a 15 rating later in the year. Let's say they do even a 14 -- that's more money right there they've got to make up to me."

"I think everybody's a loser," Schanzer said. "Nobody wins in this situation. We knew that from the beginning. That's what's sad . . . Without taking sides, you wish there were a way that sport could retain its traditional place in American society. NBC Sports is a lot better at covering sporting events than labor disputes. Unfortunately, in the last few years, network sports divisions find themselves concerned more with labor affairs than sporting events."