Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Tipid Mode: ABS-CBN’s Call of NBA Finals No Longer On-Site in Recent Years

Talk about cutting costs.

In case no one has paid attention yet, the Filipino-language commentary of the 2018 NBA Finals on ABS-CBN Channel 2 is currently held inside the network’s studios in Quezon City. No, not in Oakland, California or in Cleveland, Ohio.

Unless you’re TJ Manotoc who made the trip to the U.S. alone for the past five years (this year’s Finals will be his first since getting the call to join ABS-CBN’s North America Bureau), the commentators have stayed home for the most part. And there are reasons why they were no longer required to take the trip stateside to call the Finals.

First off, there are concerns surrounding budget. Considering the network’s long-term vision of digitalization, anything that involves plane tickets, hotel reservations, visas and working permits for at least a three-week trip may be too much of a burden for ABS-CBN.

It also did not help that the NBA returned to a 2-2-1-1-1 setup for the Finals starting in 2014. Going back and forth to different cities between Games 4-7 only adds to the cost.

Next, ABS-CBN is on a tight schedule. They made the NBA Finals available in both Channel 2 and S+A (and in different commentary languages) for this particular reason because the former has a strict schedule to follow, whereas the latter has greater flexibility with it.

In the case of overtime games like what happened in Game 1 last Friday, Channel 2 immediately ended its broadcast within minutes of the final buzzer in order to make way for ‘Sana Dalawa ang Puso’. This means that the local commentators would have no choice but to immediately bid farewell rather than dive deeper into the game.

And finally, ABS-CBN changed its commentary approach in the Finals in order to appeal to the masses. Which is why, whether traditional basketball viewers liked it or not, they hired Benjie Paras to join alongside Ronnie Magsanoc and Boom Gonzalez in order to describe the game in a simpler manner to fit the average Filipino’s needs.

Sending this trio stateside may be awkward to begin with considering their more liberal and oftentimes unorthodox style of commentary. But they were promoted to call the Finals for a reason: to make the NBA game easier for Filipino masses to understand.

With all due respect to the likes of Quinito Henson and Andy Jao (who were the first to actually call an NBA Finals direct from the U.S.), times are really changing. And ABS-CBN’s rather radical decision to stay home than call the Finals stateside may be their wisest decision yet considering their plans for the long-term.

People may not like this new approach but there is no other option. ABS-CBN is thinking about the future, and viewers must understand it.


18 thoughts on “Tipid Mode: ABS-CBN’s Call of NBA Finals No Longer On-Site in Recent Years

    • Yes they do, because some non-basketball viewers tend to become impatient while waiting for the network’s popular entertainment shows. Sana Dalawa ang Puso is among their highest-rated daytime shows, and delaying them further for a long postgame discussion of the NBA Finals might affect its ratings. At least they also air the Finals on S+A where the schedules are more flexible.

  1. “People may not like this new approach but there is no other option. ABS-CBN is thinking about the future, and viewers must understand it.”
    I do not agree with this statement. I only thinking of viewership and not the best interest of Filipino NBA fans. Even if they have subpar NBA coverage, viewership will still increase because it’s the NBA.

    • Maybe, but there are some who are criticizing their approach now because their analysis and calls of the game are considered ‘dumb’ and ‘nonsensical’ for the serious fan. Benjie Paras, for them, is not an analyst but more of a comic relief.

      They don’t like it for a reason, but at least there’s English coverage on S+A, BTV and Premium if they can’t stand it.

      Besides, sending them stateside may be worth a shot because they’re representing the country when it comes to NBA Finals coverage. It’s a shame ABS is keeping them home amid the focus towards the future of television in the country.

    • Yes they can’t prevent the running time itself but some might get impatient waiting for SDAP and succeeding entertainment shows, that’s why ABS is a bit strict with the schedule. Kapag final buzzer na, rush kaagad sa SDAP, hindi na magpapaligoy-ligoy pa, that’s what they’re doing.

  2. Jose Tiamson says:

    I may not be suprise about the move but If I were ABS, they should had hire the likes of Quinito Henson or some current PBA coaches. I mean that game 1 blunder by both Lebron’s teammates and head coach should had been explained imbis na masabi luto daw ng mga refs.

    • Sad to say, ABS is trying too hard to appeal to the masses, hence the likes of Benjie Paras calling the game like an average fan than a knowledgeable basketball scion.

      But if you can’t stand them, there’s always English commentary on S+A, BTV and Premium. Times are really changing much like primetime news.

  3. yong says:

    I think they’ve been doing this for like one or two years; though di ako avid fan ng NBA, napapadaan ako sa channel 2 and S+A minsan by the time NBA’s broadcast. Naalala ko pa nga kung di 2 years ago, last year, ang ganda pa ng studio ng local commentators; well I may not be sure pero I think sa Pilipinas na iyon.

    • 2017 was the last time they called the game from the U.S., at hanggang Game 5 lang yun. Pero since 2014 for the most part hanggang studio lang sila. Kasi let’s face it, current format nila ay 2-2-1-1-1, which means pabalik-balik sila ng venue from coast to coast, at mas magastos pa yun kaysa sa dating format na 2-3-2. And to think na ABS is more concerned about digitalization parang unnecessary na lang for them ang i-send yung crew nila sa U.S. for the Finals.

  4. yong says:

    It seems na ang wise nga ng dating pag ganun. BTW, yung bang twitter post na nilagay mo yun na yung actual studio nila?

    And NBA being broadcast by ESPN, do you think na may chance na malipat sa ESPN5 yung broadcast rights in the years to come?

    • Yes it is. Mukhang minimalist ang dating. As for the NBA moving to ESPN5, mukhang may duda ako diyan since mahina pa ang coverage area ng 5 compared sa ABS. Also, ESPN is in the minority in terms of coverage kahit nasa kanila ang Finals; NBA media itself is produced by Turner Sports (in this case NBA TV and TNT), so I don’t think it will go to 5 even after 2019 when ABS’ rights expire. I expect a renewal to that contract between ABS and NBA.

      • Jose Tiamson says:

        NBA’s Philippines is also manage by ABS-CBN so I won’t mind another 4-5 of NBA coverage on ABS except if ESPN5 decides to stop this competition bullcrap and do what TSN and Sportnet in Canada is doing… SHARE THE BROADCAST RIGHTS.

      • One thing that’s getting in the way though is pride. As long as such a word exists in their vocabulary shared broadcast rights here (especially on free TV) will never happen.

    • Given Channel 2’s mass appeal, I don’t think they can do that balancing act at all. If you recall, ABS-CBN needed to do this simulcast of the Finals in both Channel 2 (in Tagalog commentary) and S+A (in English commentary) because of Solar’s pullout of Basketball TV and NBA Premium from SkyCable last year. Not all are fans of the Tagalized commentary and want the original English audio, that’s why they need to air two dubs in two channels to appeal to different fans.

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