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ABS-CBN Continues Transition to HD

ABS-CBN officially launched its new HD channel last Saturday, part of a continuing transition to digital high definition television for the network. (Logo courtesy of ABS-CBN)

ABS-CBN’s conversion to high definition continues.

On Saturday, the network officially launched ABS-CBN HD, the first-ever HD free TV channel in the Philippines. It is currently available on Channel 167 for SkyCable and Destiny Cable subscribers, and Channel 700 for provincial subscribers.

Viewers with a high-definition digibox can enjoy some of ABS-CBN’s most popular programs in crystal clear HD. As of this article, only ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’, ‘Wansapanatym’, ‘Ipaglaban Mo’, ‘ASAP’ and Kapamilya Gold and Primetime Bida teleseryes are currently shot with HD cameras, with other programming to follow suit.

ABS-CBN began to experiment with high definition television when it launched Balls HD in 2009. The channel’s launch coincided with the opening of UAAP Season 72, which became the first local event to be broadcast in high definition.

Two years later, ‘Budoy’ became the network’s first teleserye to be shot with HD cameras, which was then followed by the network’s other dramas. And just two weeks ago, ‘ASAP’ became the first non-drama program on the network to be shot with HD cameras.

All in all, ABS-CBN’s forays with high-definition and other technologies were signs that the network is seriously preparing for the conversion to digital television here in the Philippines. Not bad for the pioneering television network which was established in 1953.

With the launch of ABS-CBN HD, let’s just hope that in the near future, the other networks will follow suit. This will not be an easy task for the other local networks, but with digitization fast approaching, time is definitely of the essence.

Note: Balls HD, which formerly occupied Channel 167, is now assigned to Channel 195 for SkyCable and Destiny Cable subscribers, and Channel 701 for provincial subscribers. ABS-CBN HD can also be seen on iWanTV.


105 thoughts on “ABS-CBN Continues Transition to HD

    • Actually they’re not catching up. They are already a pioneer, remember. Nauna sila sa HD broadcasts with Balls HD, and now they made that available with Channel 2, albeit sa cable lang. It is the other channels that need to catch up; some of which are still experimental in scope.

      • Jose Tiamson says:

        ABS is always first. Let’s say na they have the resources to go full HD and let’s say na magaling maghandle ng pera ang mga Lopez kaya ganon ang nangyari. They can now create more quality shows and live coverage ng mga key events with the resources na meron sila na wala sa ibang media entity.

  1. Believe That says:

    GMA would be the last channel to transit in HD in my prediction. For what I remember PTV-4 used HD cameras on some of their shows.

  2. Jake-jake Jacinto says:

    In GMA’s case, I think it’ll be a long road ahead to convert to HD broadcasts, obviously owing to financial constraints.

    • FYI: Some of GMA’s programs like Starstruck is already in HD, they are just broadcasting it in the standard 4:3 since not everyone has LED HD TVs at home. Eventually HDTV will come for all networks. And, mind you, both networks have increased their net incomes in the first half of the year. So having an HD and Digital broadcast is feasible with the money that they have earned as of the moment.

      • We should consider that they are still airing in 4:3, which is not HD per se. Most of ABS’ shows are doing it in 16:9, thus the latter proved more than capable of the task. Unless GMA can finally make their broadcasts in 16:9, they won’t be poised to make the jump.

      • Jc says:

        I saw the first episode of Starstruck on YouTube there was actually a part of the episode where there is a short HD video presentation about its artists. Even though Christian claimed that GMA’s show is already in HD and they are doing that in a 4:3 manner for those who do not have LED HDTVs at home. You can ovbviously see at the part of the video that it has black bars in it. Check this out to see what I mean.

      • I suggest you specify what time of the video this black bar thing occurs.

        All in all, GMA still aired that episode in 4:3, and unless they make it 16:9 they won’t be making headway.

      • Only the top has a black bar. ABS shows that were downscaled to 16:9 have two, one on top and another at the bottom. This is not an HD presentation since it didn’t even make the 16:9 aspect grade.

    • yon manaloto says:

      If I’m not mistaken, GMA started filming teleseryes in HD (or using HD cameras) since Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real; even My Husband’s Lover’s title card was originally in wide screen (hypothetically it may be in HD). They’re just airing them in 4:3 doing the pan-and-scan thing. And yes, I also saw StarStruck doing it on its live shows, and now, in LSB.

      • Technically speaking it’s still SD format. Even if they’re taping with HD cameras, they are still converting it into 4:3 SD. Go see GMA’s YouTube page and compare it with the videos on ABS’ YouTube page; it’s a huge disparity.

        GMA cannot be HD-ready if they continue to do that. Right now they’re the only ‘Big Three’ station left who has yet to broadcast in HD, and they’re way behind because of their highly criticized cost-cutting moves.

  3. Jc says:

    And ABS-CBN’s technological advancements continue to keep on coming. We should also expect that it’s digital and cable channels should go HD as well.

  4. nr3427 says:

    ASAP’s recent episodes outside the Philippines (including Los Angeles and London) are shot in HD. Maybe its studio back in the country is in the process of getting HD camera setups.

    ABS-CBN’s pre-noontime teleseryes starting with Be Careful With My Heart are shot in HD too.

    And speaking of Ipaglaban Mo, its timeslot is now occupied by Failon Ngayon starting last Saturday.

    • ASAP’s recent in-studio shows are now shot in HD too, which is good for the show. ABS can only hope that they can do the same on It’s Showtime.

      And yes, you mentioned the pre-noontime teleseryes, they’ve adopted that too. That led to TAPE finally shooting Princess in the Palace with HD cameras, something that GMA’s own dramas couldn’t afford.

      As for Ipaglaban Mo, their change of timeslot has to do with It’s Showtime airing much earlier in hopes of competing better with Eat Bulaga. This also enables ABS to reassign Mga Kwento ni Marc Logan to the afternoon in order to better match up with CelebriTV.

      • Jake-jake Jacinto says:

        Wow, everything is going HD. Even almost all of the TV commercials are going HD, as seen on its black bars when you are watching SD. This clearly shows how the technology on Philippine TV is developing rapidly in the past 6 decades. We have really gone a long, long way.

        I wonder if RHTV, MBC’s cable-only TV channel, is also broadcasting on HD, since it’s not available in our cable operator (SkyCable Cebu).

      • If somebody has RHTV on their cable systems, better fill us in.

        Going back, ABS as the pioneer of HD broadcasting really sets the tone. Now other networks are trying to follow in their footsteps. But with a big budget involved, it won’t be easy.

      • JSJ says:

        Masyado mo namang binababa ang GMA. Baka may pagka-fantard ang dating ng comment ko but GMA is already producing their programs in HD albeit stretched to SD. Di kasi basehan ang letterbox na nakikita niyo sa ABS, TV5, or sa Princess in the Palace para masabing HD ang palabas.

      • I disagree. Sa U.S. pa lang ang basis ng 16:9 HD downscaled to SD is those letterboxes. Ang HD naka-16:9, mas malawak ang coverage area, at mas claro. That’s not the case with GMA, even if you claim they’re now using HD cameras. Plus, wala pa silang full-time HD feed, so in essence, they’re still stuck in the 90s na mas mabibigat pa ang TV noon.

    • yon manaloto says:

      I agree with JSJ. I’ve already noticed it since like 2013. And in the US? American Idol was already in HD since 2004, but is broadcast in here and the rest of the world, and even on FOX (for analog TV then) in 4:3 using the pan-and-scan, that is cutting a 16:9 video left and right to fit a 4:3 screen, so that letterboxes (or black bars) do not appear. Idol, however, discontinued it at season 13, wherein etc broadcasts it in widescreen, with the letterboxes, and the graphics aren’t in the 4:3 safe zone anymore.

      • It also applies to all other US shows. By 2011, all American shows are fully optimized in HD, meaning the SD sets have no choice but to use letterboxes. And here, the stations who air US shows also have no choice but to use letterboxes for SD broadcasts.

  5. Gab says:

    ABS-CBN would be the first ever big TV network to have an HD channel like this. GEMNET did this in 2009 on ISDB-T but it was ended in 2012.

  6. Jc says:

    And let’s also hope that the next administration will support the transition to HD and Digital TV now that the Elections are fast-approaching.

  7. Not only shows produce by ABS-CBN will be aired in HD including some international programs. Just last Sunday via IWanTV, UFC 192 is aired in HD and also Power Rangers is aired in HD.

      • EB will get there. Sa bagay may budget yun TAPE for HD Broadcast. They just need a proper facility to make it happen. So they are now reports that they might leave broadway and move to more hd ready studio in marcos highway in the Cainta-Antipolo Area which APT Entertainment, the sister company of TAPE Inc acquired 3 or 4 years ago. That way they can broadcast Eat Bulaga in High Definition.

    • To clarify, GMA is still broadcasting in standard definition. Only the Koreanovelas, some new animes and public affairs programs and TAPE-produced Princess in the Palace are in 16:9, but overall, GMA has yet to experiment with HD the way that ABS and TV5 are doing.

      An HD broadcast needs a special digibox, provided you have a cable or satellite connection. The mahiwagang black box (or TVPlus) can only air in standard definition at the moment. And finally, a network needs to have the new equipment and facilities in order to experiment with HD broadcasts; since GMA has neither at the moment, they can’t proceed with it.

      • Clark says:

        Thank you for the clarification sirs. I have another question though. How is it possible that only TVPlus can receive ABS-CBN’s exclusive channels (i.e. Yey etc) and not other boxes? How is Yey and the other channels broadcasting?

      • Sa TVPlus mo lang marereceive ang mga exclusive channels ng ABS-CBN (except ABS-CBN and ABS-CBN Sports + Action). Kahit subukan mong panoorin ang exclusive channels ng ABS-CBN sa ibang set-top box (ex. RCA), hindi mo talaga mapapanood since encrypted ang mga premium channels ng ABS at mapapanood mo lang yan sa ABS-CBN TVPlus.

        CineMo is the free TV version of Cinema One. It airs mostly local movies, as well as foreign movies basta’t may action.
        Yey is the kids channel. Doon mo mapapanood ang mga animated shows kung saan may free TV rights ang ABS-CBN (ex. Nickelodeon shows)
        DZMM TeleRadyo and Knowledge Channel are both exclusive channels on ABS-CBN TVPlus, but you can still watch both channels on cable.

  8. The only thing hampering ABS-CBN’s broadcasts on HD in DTV is the limited bandwidth of ISDB-T. Walang HDMI ang TVPlus, unlike the RCA DTV box.

    If you want to follow updates on digital TV, go to DTV Pilipinas on Facebook.

      • I must agree with what you think.
        Remember in Election 2010.
        ABS CBN News spearheaded the use of Virtual Presence in their Election 2010 Coverage. also in the same year where GMA claimed they are using Holograms also for their coverage which is a false statement.
        with ABS having that ample monetary budget, They can invest for further development.

      • ABS is miles ahead of GMA when it comes to technological advancements, so they should be fine investing and fine-tuning on new equipment for next year’s elections. As for GMA, we can only hope for some surprises.

  9. Clark says:

    Thank you again sirs. From a regulatory standpoint, is encrypting digital TV signals allowed such that only a certain receiver can access it? Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t digital TV still considered broadcast and thus channels has to be on a “must carry” basis?

  10. carl luis says:

    “must carry” basis only applies to free tv, now the 4 “freemium” channels of abs-cbn tv plus namely: cinemo, yey, knowledge channel and dzmm teleradyo does not apply to this rule.

  11. Kaya sigura nkapromo ang tvplus kasi maglalabas si abs-cbn ng tvplus version 3 ung may HDMI port na baka by 2016 maging available ito at by 2016 din mgkakaroon ng ABS-CBN HD sa tvplus version3 …. bka ito ang plano nila

    • We’ll see if they’ll be able to release an HD-capable TVPlus. But as it stands, sila pa lang ang well-adjusted sa HD. The others will follow suit eventually, pero it will take time.

  12. Jose Tiamson says:

    Balls and Balls HD will cease airing on Dec 31 next week. ABS-CBN will re-launch Balls HD as ABS-CBN Sports + Action HD.

  13. I have a suggestion for ABS-CBN Coporation regarding the picture formats of their HD channels:
    *ABS-CBN HD – 1080i 30fps (already in use but some programs even those that are shot in HD cameras are upscaled 720i or with lower frame rate)
    *ABS-CBN Sports + Action – 1080i/1080p 60fps – a higher frame rate would be better for sports programming to simulate our eyes and progressive scan will be even better than interlaced scan; this will be a bit expensive since they would have to upgrade their cameras and other equipment and their SKY and DESTINY set-top boxes, as well as TV sets of customers, the bandwidth cost as well as the license fee for the video compression format.)
    *ABS-CBN News Channel – 720p 30fps, for news this format will be okay plus they will save a lot from the bandwidth cost.
    *Cinema One – 1080p 24fps, imagine watching movies in full HD 1080 progressive scan at 24 frames per second. It will be heaven haha.. I can only imagine watching Bagong Buwan and Dekada ’70 in that format. ABS-CBN Film Archives is in the process of digitization, restoring, and remastering of their over 2,400 films. Over 130 are already restored.

    • Again, ABS’ HD channels are still experimental in nature. It’ll take some time fine-tuning the format to their liking. Perhaps you should direct that to ABS management.

  14. Gab says:

    Mukhang almost 75% ng lahat ng shows ng ABS-CBN ay naka-HD na, including the new additions Celebrity Playtime and GGV.

    Kulang na lang ay ang mga comedy shows (ex. BS, Goin’, HSH), Mga Kwento ni Marc Logan at newscasts.

  15. What I notice from last Sunday’s presidential debates is that channel 2 aired the pre show and post analysis on HD while the main debate though it is broadcast in HD in other platforms, it was broadcast on SD in channel 2.

  16. doesn'tcare says:

    I’m watching right now Halalan 2016 on both ABS-CBN Ch 2 and ANC thru live streaming (from their website); however, I noticed that the former is not in HD format (even ABS-CBN HD Channel is shown in SD format with black bars on both sides) but ANC is in HD format. Any thoughts?

    • ABS was supposed to make significant upgrades in this year’s elections, but it didn’t happen. Channel 2’s live news coverage is still in SD, which is disappointing for a channel that has already been broadcasting in HD. It is possible that they still haven’t purchased enough HD cameras to merit a full-time broadcast, both in-studio and on location. Heck, even their regional affiliates have yet to make the transition to HD as well.

      If you look at ABS HD and ANC HD, there’s an advisory that says ‘TEST BROADCAST’. This means that the two channels are still a work in progress. They may have been launched, but there’s still room to improve.

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