Philippines, Sports, television

Barely Recognizable: PBA News Seldom Mentioned in Other Networks

Hardly mentioned: News surrounding the PBA is a seldom occurrence in ABS-CBN and GMA newscasts. (Photo credit: Philippine Basketball Association)

News surrounding the Philippine Basketball Association is hard to come by these days.

Once one of the Philippines’ national pastimes, the league has fallen on hard times in recent years due to a bevy of controversies. Nowadays, the PBA is barely mentioned at all in  TV networks outside ESPN5, a byproduct of declining interest that has alarmed the league of late.

One network, in particular, has repeatedly shunned the PBA when it comes to sports news. Enter ABS-CBN and its family of networks.

In ABS-CBN’s most recent year-end sports report, there was not even a single mention about the PBA. The network, in particular, failed to account the 50,000 or so crowd that saw Barangay Ginebra San Miguel win Game 7 of the Governors’ Cup finals over the Meralco Bolts, or the two championships won by the San Miguel Beermen last season, or the Christian Standhardinger-Chito Narvasa controversy.

It has been a pattern that is constant for the past several years. Instead of the PBA, ABS-CBN’s TV newscasts focused more on its sports properties such as the UAAP, NCAA, NBA and ABL, as well as national teams such as the Gilas basketball team and the Azkals football team.

In fairness, ANC’s Hardball, DZMM’s Fastbreak and ABS-CBN’s sports and news websites always make up for the newscasts’ oversight by mentioning and even talking about the PBA in greater detail. But even that is not enough to slap some sense in ABS-CBN’s mindset.

Now what about GMA? While they also report about the PBA on their news websites, they also do not mention the league’s news on their newscasts, and worse, they barely care about the world of sports at all since they do not even have a sports division.

Which leaves us to the only two networks that do take a look at the PBA on a regular basis: PTV-4’s ‘PTV Sports’ and CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’. Much like the PBA, they are hardly recognizable in the viewers’ consciousness, but at least they are doing their best to cover the league’s latest news with consistency and detail.

But for the two network giants in South Triangle, not mentioning the PBA on television is an disgrace to the league. Yes its popularity may have slipped of late due to these internal issues, but the PBA is still an important part of the Filipino sporting landscape and something needs to be done to rekindle the league’s interests.

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17 thoughts on “Barely Recognizable: PBA News Seldom Mentioned in Other Networks

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wondering if the reluctance by other networks to cover the PBA is more to do with their contract with TV5 and Fox Sports than apathy.

    Also, really sad to see what happened to the PBA. Apparently the ratings are still decent, but aside from Ginebra and out of town games, attendance has been abysmal in recent years. Like how the PBA is being outdrawn by volleyball, the UAAP and NCAA, and even the UNTV Cup (and possibly soon by even the MPBL). I mean, it’s the premier league of the most popular sport here, and they can’t even fill up 1/4 of the Araneta (aside from Ginebra games, and even then they rarely sell out). Even their season/conference openers or playoffs have poor attendance unless Ginebra is playing. Tila Ginebra nalang ata ang bumubuhay sa PBA; might as well rename the league the Ginebra Basketball Association. What went wrong?

    • Obviously they had many controversies. Go look at them and see how many times the PBA has gotten into trouble. Poor marketing is also a factor; some fans only care for the player and not the team they play for. It also didn’t help that TV5 has poor reach and signal that attracting fans to watch the games become even more difficult.

      • Anonymous says:

        They may have had their share of controversies, but you can tell that the league still has many fans in the country. I mean, their out-of-town games are usually packed (as opposed to the Manila games). Surely the league could find a way to tap into that, right?

        Honestly, I don’t know if the PBA has another choice for another TV partner anyway, which is why they’re still sticking to TV5. Putting aside that Chot (a PBA coach) is also TV5’s head, it’s not like there’s anywhere else to go: ABS has its hands full (and I’m not exactly sure if the PBA wants to work with TV5 anyway), GMA doesn’t have a sports division, and PTV doesn’t exactly have a good reputation yet (with all their pre-emptings and all). The other channels are too minor to matter, and I guess cable is a non-starter since the PBA needs free TV coverage (we are not ready for PL-style pay TV exclusivity, unlike in the UK).

      • Air and even bus travel can be costly that’s why the PBA is reluctant to hold more games outside Metro Manila. This is also the reason why the MPBL is starting small with all of the teams based in Luzon and some of them in Metro Manila.

        Regarding PBA TV rights, TV5 is pretty much their only option left, with others out in the running for reasons you stated. Heck, MVP owns three teams in the PBA which bodes for some favoritism.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Also, wonder if teams regularly changing names is hurting the league, particularly with casuals. I understand it’s done to promote the parent company’s properties, but it can get confusing. Like how the teams currently known as San Miguel and Magnolia have gone through several name changes over the years, or how Kia has alternated between being called Kia and Mahindra ever since it started. Loyal fans probably don’t mind, but I can imagine people new or unfamiliar to the league will have difficulty keeping track.

    Do you think this is a possible reason for the apparent difficulty in gaining/retaining fans, or is name changing just a minor issue in the grand scale of things?

    • In some cases, minor while in others major. Magnolia has kept the Purefoods lineage for a long time that fans would not mind a brand change. But a young team like Kia is a different story since they are still trying to gain a fanbase. Sadly, to change names after a conference or two will not help for a team that is just starting.

      Still, team names are not the issue here. There are other controversies that keep fans away from the PBA.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was thinking more though that changing names won’t bother long-time fans, but it could be confusing for newer or casual fans. It might not be helpful for the league gaining new fans.

      Maybe they should consider limiting changing names to once a season (not every conference).

      • Could be, for purposes of long-term sustainability. But one season is too short. Maybe two or three seasons can do the trick. They could also be more creative in their nicknames. Honestly, KIA’s too generic because they use a car brand for their name. Perhaps a more distinctive moniker should help.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Isang napansin ko, ang Philippine Star, ayaw magbanggit ng MPBL tapos ang mga columnist laging pro-PBA o pro-Gilas management. Like yung Gilas pull-out (since reversed), The Philippine Star’s columnists defended it. I know MVP’s group owns the Philippine Star, but still. On the other hand, MB and the Inquirer, among others, don’t seem to have any problems mentioning both the PBA and the MPBL (or any of the other alternative basketball leagues for that matter). Just an interesting observation.

    • Tiebreaker Times also. No news on the MPBL either. Maybe it’s space issues or simply not enough time to cover said league due to its national scope and games taking place in various parts of Luzon.

      • Anonymous says:

        Or it could simply be that they don’t want to give coverage to the MPBL considering many think it’s a PBA rival (even though this is not the intention). This was the case even last season, when the MPBL was only Luzon teams.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually di nga lang MPBL ang di kinocover ng Star, pati UNTV Cup at ibang minor leagues. Di katulad ng Inquirer at Bulletin na may updates (kahit maigsing section man lang).

      • Let’s leave it at that since hindi naman kasama ang diyaryo sa blog na ito. The important thing is that there are some media organizations that are either biased or apathetic to a particular sporting event or league which is unfair to the latter.

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