live events, Philippines, Sports, television

New Schedules for NCAA Season 90 Men’s Basketball on Sports5

The 90th NCAA season kicks off this June 28 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

This Saturday, the NCAA returns for its 90th season with the theme of ‘Today’s Heroes, Tomorrow’s Legends – NCAA @ 90: We Make History’. And in an attempt to shorten their basketball season, a new schedule was implemented.

Back in Season 89, the NCAA endured a longer-than-expected basketball season. The season began on June 22, after which the league took a break in early August due to the FIBA Asia Championships. Then came Typhoons Maring and Odette, which led to some postponed games.

As a result, the Final Four only got underway in November. The unexpected length of the NCAA season proved to be a hindrance for the organizers of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League, whose preliminary round games are usually scheduled in early November.

In response, reporters coined the hashtag #DiPaTaposAngNCAA, which was prophetic given the extended length of the season. It was not until November 16 that the season finally came to an end, as the San Beda Red Lions achieved their fifth straight championship at the expense of the Letran Knights.

Following the conclusion of the season, I wrote an article that would suggest a shorter NCAA season. In that article I discussed about a four-day or five-day a week schedule, the need for other venues besides the FilOil Flying V Arena, and the commitment that TV5 needs in order to make it all happen. As it turned out, I was right about the first suggestion, but then again the league will continue to depend on the San Juan venue for most of its games.

The new schedule will be as follows:

Doubleheaders every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting at 2 p.m. The doubleheaders from June 30 to July 4 will start at 12 p.m. due to the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals coverage.

Lone games every Saturday, with the exception of the June 28 openers, starting at 12:30 p.m.

AksyonTV will air all games, while TV5 will air the second weekday games and all Saturday games. Replays will air on HYPER.

This will be the first time since Season 87 that the NCAA will have all of its seniors games in the afternoon. In the past, Sports5 aired NCAA games on primetime, but with TV5 joining in the act, its loaded primetime lineup makes it impossible to employ the same scheme. Thus, the NCAA returns to an old method previously used with ABS-CBN Sports.

This season’s basketball games will be hosted by Jose Rizal University, and will also mark the final probationary season for Emilio Aguinaldo College and Lyceum of the Philippines University. The two schools’ membership will depend on their performance in all sports, and if they pass with flying colors, they will be accepted as regular members in Season 91 and beyond.

Defending champion San Beda is gunning for a sixth straight championship, but nine other schools are threatening to end the streak. This season promises to be very exciting and compelling, as the NCAA makes history.

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Philippines, Sports, television

What’s Wrong with the NCAA on Sports5?

The 89th NCAA season in the Philippines recently concluded with De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde winning the overall seniors title, and San Beda College-Taytay winning the high school title. However, the season proved to be a dud in a broadcasting standpoint, and as NCAA’s television contract with Sports5 enters its final year, a lot of issues had to be resolved.

Scheduling Concerns on Seniors Basketball

Like in Season 88, Sports5 scheduled the elimination round games at 4 p.m. The eliminations were aired on AksyonTV after the dissolution of AKTV on IBC-13. However, during the playoffs, they were moved to a less favorable 12 p.m. slot to accommodate TV5’s loaded primetime programs.

Obviously, neither viewership nor attendance increased despite the move to primetime, and it became even worse when the games were moved to the less powerful AksyonTV. In addition, the decision to air the Final Four and Finals at 12 p.m. on TV5 caused a backlash; one particular Final Four doubleheader was affected by the Janet Lim-Napoles hearings, forcing the games to air only on AksyonTV. The early afternoon broadcasts of the Finals, like in the eliminations, did little to attract viewers.

It also didn’t help that the NCAA basketball season extended to November due to the FIBA Asia Championship and the typhoons that forced the postponement of games, thus leaving fans impatient.

Lack of Publicity

Last Thursday’s Cheerleading Competition at the Mall of Asia Arena was a prime example of Sports5’s lack of publicity with the league, with attendance figures sharply less than the consistent sellout crowds of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition at the said venue. The event, unlike its UAAP counterpart, was a non-factor in social media circles.

Sports5’s lack of promotion extends beyond the cheerleading competition. Women’s volleyball, already a centerpiece in the NCAA’s second semester, was given little to no attention by Sports5 due to the PBA, and as a result only a few games were aired at the unconventional 12 p.m. slot. Other events were also given only spot highlights during commercials.

Announcers’ Problems

As I have noted in a previous article, Sports5 announcers had the tendency to speak just before the commercial gaps end. This was none more evident than during the NCAA basketball finals, and the problems extended beyond the NCAA games.

If these announcers learn to cue themselves before the end of a commercial, then Sports5’s NCAA coverage would have been smoother and more consistent. But instead the announcers became impatient, and that ruined the viewers’ experience.

Outlook

The NCAA on Sports5 enters a contract year in Season 90, and through the first two years, coverage has not been good. With its contract expiring, Sports5 needs to improve on these aspects in hopes of extending its deal with the league, otherwise the NCAA may begin considering a new partner for Season 91.

Good luck with that.

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