digital television, movies, online, Philippines, television, video on demand, VOD service

iWhat?: iWant Encounters Loading Issues Upon Launch

The new iWant is off to a rather inauspicious start.

Hours into its highly anticipated launch last November 17, iWant encountered a temporary slowdown caused by high volume of users. Many of them downloaded the new iWant in order to watch some of its new and original content, which included the hotly-discussed film ‘Glorious’ featuring a viral kissing scene involving lead stars Angel Aquino and Tony Labrusca.

In response, iWant issued a statement saying that they are increasing capacity in order to meet the demands of its users. As of 10:00 p.m., the iWant app is now updated to version 4.0.2.

iWant also reported that the app now has over one million downloads and is used by over 10,000 users per hour. But with so many consumers knocking on the door, it was clear that ABS-CBN is not prepared for such high demand.

If the old iWant TV was smooth sailing to watch at times, then the same cannot be said to its successor. With some additional content such as the aforementioned original films and music to complement on-demand programs, films and live streams, ABS-CBN’s digital team found themselves in a conundrum over the possible increase in consumer demand.

Suffice to say, they failed to anticipate what took place next. And unfortunately for users of iWant (myself included), they took notice by bombarding iWant’s social media pages with plenty of complaints.

This is already the third day of iWant’s official operations and so far the ‘temporary slowdown’ that was revealed Saturday continues to linger. Even I began to question the capabilities of the new iWant, especially after my attempt to watch ANC’s live stream was constantly disrupted despite enjoying a strong internet connection.

Call it growing pains or simply impatience. For now, ABS-CBN’s digital team is working round the clock to improve and increase the capacity of iWant, but this is going to be a painful ordeal, so users must wait and see what happens in the next several days.

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drama, entertainment, movies, Philippines, television

In 100 Words: Drama Flicks on Jeepney TV

Drama films are not on CineMo’s vocabulary.

So when Jeepney TV was finally included on ABS-CBN TVPlus last week, there was some solace for viewers who were handcuffed by CineMo’s limited film selection. Not only does Jeepney TV air a selection of classic ABS-CBN programs, they also have a vintage movie block called ‘Pasada Pelikula’ every Saturday.

Last Saturday Jeepney TV aired ‘Bituin Walang Ningning’ which is infamous for Cherie Gil’s ‘You’re nothing but a second-rate, trying hard copycat’ catchphrase. Such a tearjerking film will not fit well into CineMo’s style but luckily for viewers, Jeepney TV has it all covered.

This Saturday, ‘Pasada Pelikula’ will air ‘Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin’ which also starred Sharon Cuneta. If ABS-CBN were to decide on Jeepney TV’s fate on TVPlus come 2019, retaining it should do wonders.

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drama, entertainment, humor, movies, Philippines, suspense, television, variety show

Eat Bulaga Creates Another Made-for-TV Movie

Never mind that ‘Eat Bulaga’ is no longer a ratings juggernaut as they were in years past.

The now 40-year-old variety show (technically 39 but the number is considered unlucky for them) is content with what they do best: to make viewers happy. In fact, for the past two years, they even ventured into filmmaking with 2017’s ‘Love Is…’ and this year’s offering.

On Saturday, July 28, ‘Eat Bulaga’ will premiere the mini-movie ‘Pamana’, starring Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, Paolo Ballesteros and Maine Mendoza as the Pamilya Nunal from ‘The Barangay Jokers’ series. The show’s other hosts and some unnamed special guests will also play bit roles in this upcoming film.

‘Pamana’, a suspense/comedy thriller, will also mark the directorial debut of Ariel Manalo (birth name of Jose Manalo). Yes, you heard that right: Jose himself directed the film.

For viewers who have watched ‘Eat Bulaga’ for years, going into made-for-TV film territory is something unusual for the long-running variety show even on a normal day. The only times the show dropped its typical segments (e.g. Juan for All) is when it airs its annual Lenten drama specials.

But a show like ‘Eat Bulaga’ is definitely not content in visiting barangays and giving the audience an opportunity to win prizes on a regular basis. Going above and beyond the basics is something the show has long desired to do for years.

Which is why last year’s ‘Love Is…’ and this year’s ‘Pamana’ is a refreshing break from the norm. After all, no one wants to get bored with the same old formula over and over again.

Good luck, ‘Eat Bulaga’. May ‘Pamana’ be worth the price of admission to your viewers.

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cable TV, entertainment, movies, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, Sports, television

Philippine Cable and Digital Channels Face Issue of Redundancy

Hero is one of several cable channels in the Philippines that was shut down this year due to redundancy in content. (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

Redundancy has become a common theme for cable and digital channels in the Philippines.

In the first half of 2018 alone, viewers witnessed a closure of numerous cable channels in the country. On the local side of the spectrum, there was Hero, TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel, CT and 2nd Avenue, and on the international front there was Toonami.

There were also some rebrandings and resurrections of several channels as well. CPI made LIGA the second coming of Balls in time for the FIFA World Cup (replacing ARC, TAG and Hero in the process) while rebranding Lifestyle into Metro Channel, and then the MVP Group converted Bloomberg Philippines into One News.

So why do these things happen to our beloved cable and digital channels? The most cited reason is financial constraints, but it goes deeper than that.

When two channels air similar content with one another, redundancy happens. This is exactly the case that befell the likes of Hero, TAG, CT, 2nd Avenue and Toonami because they feature similar themes and genres with one or several channels.

Hero and Toonami, for example, became victims of cord-cutters and other channels such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, AniPlus, Animax and even Yey!, which show some anime and action series as well. Same with CT and 2nd Avenue who share some of the programming with sister channels Jack TV and ETC.

Going further back, CPI shut down Velvet in 2014 and moved some of its content over to Lifestyle. Four years later, Lifestyle was rebranded into Metro Channel and is now essentially a second coming of Velvet.

There is also LIGA, which was launched for the FIFA World Cup but is expected to face similar redundancy issues as Balls since its only other source of content are events that air on ABS-CBN S+A. Finally, the rebrand from Bloomberg Philippines to One News has made AksyonTV (a former news channel-turned-T5N clone) redundant, something the MVP Group must address moving forward.

However, redundancy is not limited to cable channels alone. Yey!, for example, has a movie block called ‘Kid Sine’, but some of the films shown here are also aired on sister channel CineMo (under the CineFantasya and CineKomedya blocks).

Yey! also airs reruns of ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids’ while CineMo rebroadcasts ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Bagani’ on weekends. Such reruns should have been exclusive to Jeepney TV.

These are just some of the examples that face cable and digital channels today. Considering the competitive nature of this business, trying to stay unique and distinct in terms of content is not as easy as it looks.

So the best that these channels can do right now is to remain innovative and wide-eyed to the audience while keeping themselves afloat. This juggling act may be difficult, but when done properly, they can stay on the air for a long period of time.

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action, comedy, drama, entertainment, fantasy, movies, Philippines, suspense, television

Blurring the Lines: Is CineMo Finally Ready to Accept Drama and Romance Films?

The movie ‘Ikaw na Sana’ was aired on CineMo as part of the CineKomedya block, but was classified as a romantic drama film. (Photo courtesy of Video48 and Viva Films)

Talk about a tone shift.

CineMo, an ABS-CBN digital TV channel, has been on the airwaves for the past seven years. However, its content has stayed basically the same, airing comedy, action, suspense, sexy and fantasy films from the get-go.

But in the past few weeks, movies from the romance and drama genres began to air on CineMo as well. Such films were aired on the channel’s CineKomedya block, but for whatever reason they do not feel like comedy films at all.

Take for instance the recent airing of the film ‘Ikaw na Sana’. The movie was an adaptation of the television series that aired on GMA some 20 years ago, and it starred Bobby Andrews and Angelu de Leon alongside Gladys Reyes and Jake Roxas.

Unfortunately for CineMo, ‘Ikaw na Sana’ was labeled as a romantic drama film. And considering the film did not have any funny jokes or comedic bits, it was not appropriate for it to air on the CineKomedya block.

There were also other films that aired on CineKomedya that do not appear to be humorous at all. Some of these films foreshadowed the modern romantic comedy drama series that air on ABS-CBN these days, but for the most part tears were shed more than laughs.

With that in mind, is it the perfect time for CineMo to accept romance and drama films to the fold? Considering that they have been repeatedly airing most of the same films over and over again, perhaps it is the right time to do so.

CineMo could launch new drama and romance blocks titled CineDrama and CineRomansya on timeslots normally reserved to action and comedy flicks. That way, films from the romance and drama genres can be aired without any confusion and concern from the viewer.

Not only that, CineMo will have a deeper reservoir thanks to these films. That said, having romance and drama films on the channel does help in attracting the young and feminine audience more, even though the channel is more catered to working-class males.

The ball is now on CineMo’s court to score. One can only hope that the channel will dig deep and go beyond their comfort zone with these tearjerkers.

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entertainment, internet, movies, news, online, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

Around the Mediaverse: ARC, TAG Sign Off; Rappler Stripped of Registration

More sad news in Philippine cable television.

At midnight of January 15, the ABS-CBN Regional Channel and TAG permanently signed off the air. According to Creative Programs Inc., they cite a ‘change in business direction’ for the closure of the two channels.

The ARC was launched on August 1, 2016 in another attempt to make ABS-CBN Regional programs available outside its respective regional footprint. However, like the Sarimanok Channel (now the ABS-CBN News Channel), ARC was beset by various problems from the start and its inability to gain support from the mother network eventually led to its downfall.

Two months later, on October 19, TAG signed on, showing Tagalized foreign films. However, it also endured its fair share of problems, the most obvious of which is redundancy due to the fact that the films shown in the channel are also aired on sister channels such as ABS-CBN, CineMo, Cinema One and Yey!.

CPI will also end broadcast of the anime channel Hero on January 31. More on that in a future article.

Rappler Registration Revoked

Later that afternoon, some breaking news involving a rising media outlet shook the world of journalism. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it revoked its registration of Rappler due to an alleged violation of a rule regarding foreign ownership of media companies.

The SEC claimed that Rappler is being controlled by the Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Rappler denied this statement, saying that the company is ‘100% Filipino-owned’ and that Omidyar is only an investor.

Rappler’s reported revocation of its registration was vehemently criticized by the likes of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, saying that it violated the rights of freedom of speech and the press. Malacañang denied these claims, saying Rappler violated constitutional rules and that it has nothing to do with President Rodrigo Duterte’s criticism of the outlet.

This said rule regarding the ban on foreign ownership of media companies has been in place since the 1970s. It can be recalled that GMA Network owner Robert ‘Uncle Bob’ Stewart sold the company to Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit and Menardo Jimenez due to said rule, and MPB Primedia was also forced to sell its share of TV5 to Manny V. Pangilinan.

Despite its revocation, Rappler said it will continue to operate and will exhaust all legal efforts in order to reconsider SEC’s decision. Good luck with that.

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