Philippines, Sports, television

Frustrating Turn on PBA Coverage

Yesterday I discussed about the recent problems the PBA endured in terms of their television coverage, even mentioning the latest proposal regarding live games on AksyonTV and live/delayed games on TV5. Unfortunately, the league board denied TV5’s request to air the live games on AksyonTV, and even stated that they would not allow a UHF channel to air their games again. Which begs me the question: Did the PBA make a mistake in renewing ties with TV5?

Back when the PBA was still negotiating for a new television contract following the expiration of Solar Sports‘ contract, the only suitor at the time was TV5. ABS-CBN’s sports lineup had been loaded with the UAAP and NBA coverage, while GMA seems reluctant in taking the PBA with them. With the lack of other suitors, the PBA decided to ink a new contract with TV5. However, with TV5’s primetime lineup already loaded, they decided to ink a blocktime deal with IBC-13 to air PBA games. Thus the AKTV block was born in August, and the PBA would be seen on IBC-13 for over a year.

However, mounting operation costs forced TV5 to go elsewhere, thus allowing the blocktime contract with IBC to expire at the end of May. The looming expiration would see TV5 pick up coverage of the Commissioner’s Cup semifinals and finals on a live or delayed basis, in conjunction with AKTV. Once the blocktime agreement expired, the debate got underway, which is still unsettled as of today.

For some reason the PBA made a mistake, because they did not know how to deal with the short-term blocktime deal that TV5 made with IBC. TV5, in particular, rebranded itself after its initial contract with the PBA expired in 2008, allowing it to compete head-on with GMA and ABS-CBN. It was this rebrand that practically made it impossible for them to air PBA games once they renegotiated, forcing them to move the games to IBC. And now they are faced with the dilemma of airing the games on the main network because of their loaded primetime lineup. Thus the PBA was put in a disadvantage with the TV5 situation, even if they enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.

If they were to follow commissioner Chito Salud‘s promise of not airing the games on UHF TV, the only other option for the PBA is to negotiate with GMA 7. GMA 7 has a VHF television station in GMA News TV, thus giving the PBA an option of airing the games on GMA’s sister network. While PTV-4 is another option, they lack the necessary clarity and reach that the ‘Big 3’ networks can offer. So the only way that the PBA can be viable is if they air on GMA News TV, provided that GMA is willing to negotiate.

For now, the PBA on TV5 is here to stay. Best of luck to TV5 management for sorting out the situation.