entertainment, music, Philippines, television

GMA’s Sunday Afternoon Blues

Party Pilipinas will have its last show on May 19, another futile effort by the GMA Network to stay afloat against its arch-rival on Sunday afternoons. Hot TV was another example, after it was axed two weeks earlier. (Logo courtesy of GMA)

Last Sunday, it was announced that next week’s ‘Party Pilipinas‘ will be their final show. The penultimate live performance was held at the MOA Arena on Mothers’ Day, and it was the ‘A’ team who performed for the final time. Next week’s show will see the ‘B’ team make its last performance in the PP stage, and then the show itself will fade into history after Sunday afternoon.

It was a three-year run that did not live to the expectations of management, talent and the viewers. That does not mean the variety show performed badly, but it could not equal nor topple the Sunday afternoon standard that was ASAP on ABS-CBN. In fact, the more recent Kantar ratings (which was ABS-CBN’s preferred carrier) show that ASAP led by a wide margin over PP. Although GMA claimed their show rated well based on their more trusted NUTAM ratings, it was not enough to save the show from getting axed.

Two weeks ago Hot TV was also cancelled without warning, and was replaced by Filipino-dubbed movies. Amid rumours of its cancellation, it was confirmed by various sources that due to either health concerns (Regine Velasquez) or election preparations (Roderick Paulate, Raymond Gutierrez), Hot TV was impromptly cancelled by the GMA Network, without announcing it on the air. Its cancellation was again based on the ratings, where the program’s emphasis on true human stories over showbiz issues never clicked with the viewers.

The past few years saw GMA fare poorly on Sunday afternoons. With the exception of Manny Pacquiao fights, GMA’s Sunday afternoon ratings were never at par with ABS-CBN’s. In the past, SOP and S-Files were the more preferred programs for viewers, but the scales recently tipped in ASAP and The Buzz’s favor, in large part to the exodus of some of GMA’s resident stars to the Kapamilya network and its decision to reformat both programs into Party Pilipinas and Showbiz Central. Worse, GMA brought in aging and unproven talent rather than maximizing the use of their own new talent in a futile effort to remain competitive.

On the contrary, Johnny Manahan’s magic continued to weave. ASAP continued its winning streak thanks to the recent introduction of younger Star Magic talent, social media trends and creative stage designs. The use of Facebook and Twitter further enhanced ASAP’s  appeal, whereas PP’s performances were mentioned less on the new medium. The Buzz also benefited from the use of social media to gain more viewers than its competing program. Such social media participation was virtually absent on the GMA Network.

With Party Pilipinas and Hot TV now a distant memory, the Kapuso network needs a new plan of action in order to remain competitive. A new unnamed variety show program is in the works, while a new showbiz talk show remains in development. But seriously, all GMA needs is a new approach on their Sunday afternoon programming. Not a variety show nor a showbiz program, but live sports events, something GMA has been reluctant to air for the past 20 years.