Korea, Philippines, Sports, television

In 100 Words: The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on ESPN5

After further deliberation, the home of the Olympics will remain in Mandaluyong.

TV5 (or more appropriately ESPN5) announced that they will cover the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea from February 9-25. This despite the fact that the network was criticized for their poor handling of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Redemption may be on the mind of ESPN5, but it will not be an easy one since the PBA and the FIBA Asia qualifying games will also take place during this time. Nevertheless, with Chot Reyes now on board, an increased emphasis towards live sporting events should help ESPN5’s cause.

The Philippine delegation will only have two athletes in figure skater Michael Christian Martinez and skier Asa Miller. Still, expect a much better (hopefully) showing by ESPN5 for this year’s Winter Olympics.

Philippines, Sports, television

Liga Is the New Balls

CPI has a new cable channel in LIGA, which will eventually serve as the main home of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

ABS-CBN’s Creative Programs Inc. has a new cable channel anew.

Following the closure of TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel and Hero, CPI went back to work and quietly established a new sports-oriented cable channel called LIGA. The channel’s content will eventually be focused on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but for the time being, it airs live and classic UAAP men’s basketball and women’s volleyball matches as well as the World Cup qualifiers.

LIGA is served to complement S+A, ABS-CBN’s free TV channel dedicated to sports. While ABS-CBN Sports is the current rightsholder for the World Cup, its main channel S+A may not be enough to shoulder the burden due to its other sports commitments both internationally and locally.

Thus an alternate channel was needed to pick up the slack. Enter LIGA, which is currently on test broadcast with an official launch soon to be announced.

This is not the first time that CPI decided to establish its own sports channel. During the ensuing controversy surrounding SkyCable and Solar Entertainment in 2008 regarding carriage of the latter’s channels, CPI appeased to the demands of some sports fans with the launch of Balls, which lasted seven years before CPI ended its broadcasts in favor of S+A.

But unlike Balls which catered more to the upper echelon of society, LIGA will be more mass-oriented in nature. This despite the fact that it will contain many of the events that Balls used to air.

Now that LIGA is about to be unleashed, one can only hope that this channel will benefit sports fans in more ways than one. Not only that, as the home of the World Cup this June, football fans will be more excited than ever to see their football heroes strut their stuff in the world’s biggest stage.

Good luck.

Philippines, Sports, television

Thoughts on the MPBL on ABS-CBN S+A

A new Filipino basketball league is about to take off.

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, founded by Senator Manny Pacquiao and his business manager Arnold Vegafria, will officially launch later tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The league’s maiden event will begin with an elaborate opening ceremony and a game between the Parañaque Patriots and Caloocan Supremos.

The league’s premise is simple: it consists of 10 teams located around Metro Manila and Luzon (with expansion to Visayas and Mindanao to follow soon) and it also aims to give grassroots athletes and aspiring basketball players a chance to showcase their skills and continue their basketball careers. These 10 teams are as follows:

  1. Parañaque Patriots
  2. Caloocan Supremos
  3. Batangas City Athletics
  4. Valenzuela Classic
  5. Navotas Clutch
  6. Muntinlupa Cagers
  7. Bataan Defenders
  8. Bulacan Kuyas
  9. Imus MPBL team
  10. Quezon City MPBL team

A home-and-away format will be followed so that teams can have a chance to play on their home court in front of their fans. In essence, the MPBL is a developmental league that is more similar to the NBA G League and is inspired from the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).

Let’s face it, the Philippines deserves another basketball league and something had to be done about the surplus of talent. Every basketball player dreams of making it to the PBA but what if there is little to no chance of earning a slot?

Also, what if basketball fans does not have the courage or the resources to watch a basketball game in faraway or big venues? This is exactly what the MPBL does: propagate the game of basketball closer to the fan while giving some undeserved talents a chance to prove their worth.

Not only that, the MPBL will get some much-needed exposure on national television via S+A, the sports channel of ABS-CBN. The said channel’s strong reach should benefit the MPBL a lot as it tries to gain the respect of Filipino basketball diehards.

It will be interesting to see how far this upstart league go. But for those who are worried that the MPBL could pose a threat to the PBA, don’t fret because they are only concerned about giving players opportunities while extending the careers of others.

Games of the MPBL will take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. It will be aired on ABS-CBN’s S+A channel.

entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Thoughts on WWE Raw 25

Next week will mark a celebration for WWE’s flagship program.

On January 22 (January 23 Manila time), WWE Raw will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special three-hour presentation. The episode will feature special appearances from WWE legends as well as matches that will serve as a final tuneup for the Royal Rumble.

Unfortunately for Filipino wrestling fans, Raw has not been available on television for nearly a year after previous rightsholder FOX Philippines declined to renew its rights with the WWE. Instead, commercial-free 90-minute full episodes of Raw are currently uploaded on its YouTube page for the benefit of the fans.

There is also the WWE Network subscription service where every WWE programming is available on-demand, including live pay-per-views such as the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. However, new episodes of Raw are only available weeks after its original broadcast.

As for TV5, even though it signed a contract with the WWE, it has so far opted to air only a one-hour condensed edition of SmackDown. It’s a shame since previous rightsholders made good use of a full complement of WWE programs including pay-per-views, and due to TV5’s delicate financial situation, they were unable to complement SmackDown with other programs such as Raw.

Regarding Raw 25 next week, snubbing such a show on Philippine television is an insult to wrestling fans in the country. After all, this is the longest-running and flagship program in the WWE, with so many great moments and legendary personalities to boot.

While WWE Network and an uploaded YouTube episode of Raw may be enough appeasement for fans, airing it on television may still be the better option given its wider availability and uninterrupted access. Even in the U.S., Raw is still aired on television because of reasons stated earlier.

In the end, fans can only hope that one day Raw will return to Philippine television in the near future. This is an important wrestling program that cannot be missed and fans deserve to see more of WWE’s top superstars (more than just the ones shown on SmackDown).