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FTT Year 2014 in Review: ABS-CBN

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2015, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article will focus on ABS-CBN, who continued to dominate television ratings this year.

The Positives

High ratings, top trending topics, and a slew of awards. Just another impressive year on Mother Ignacia.

Primetime Bida remained ABS-CBN’s strongest suit in its weekday arsenal, led by the block’s top-rated program of the year, ‘The Legal Wife’. Meanwhile, the Kapamilya network’s reality and talent shows continued to overwhelm the opposition, led by top-raters ‘The Voice Kids’, ‘Pinoy Big Brother: All In’ and the second season of ‘The Voice of the Philippines’.

Long-running programs ‘TV Patrol’, ‘ASAP’, ‘The Buzz’ and ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’ remained at the top of their game, while ‘It’s Showtime’, ‘Gandang Gabi Vice’, and even the returning ‘Ipaglaban Mo’ became a force to be reckoned with.

ABS-CBN Sports also enjoyed an extremely successful year, starting with the launch of ABS-CBN Sports+Action in late January. High ratings during this year’s NBA Finals and the UAAP men’s basketball and women’s volleyball finals eventually led to the two leagues’ renewal of broadcast rights later this year.

The Kapamilya network’s award closet continued to grow, particularly in November’s Star Awards for Television, where ABS-CBN received a total of 34 awards. They also scored big in the Anak TV and Catholic Mass Media Awards, among other bodies.

The Negatives

Not all news is good, however. ABS-CBN also endured some missteps throughout the year, all of which made a significant impact on the network’s performance.

While Primetime Bida dominated primetime, they also had a fair share of busts. Julia Barretto’s acting debut as ‘Mirabella’ failed to impress, while the reboot of ‘Dyesebel’ and ‘Sana Bukas Pa ang Kahapon’ never lived up to expectations.

‘Be Careful with My Heart’ may have dominated the headlines in 2013, but it was a different story in 2014. The show’s ratings declined for much of the year, before rebounding on the show’s final episode on November 28.

The last two quarters of 2014 saw the decline in quality of Kapamilya Gold. The network’s last two afternoon soaps, ‘Galema: Anak ni Zuma’ and ‘Moon of Desire’, were replaced by a combination of Asianovela reruns, ‘Bet on Your Baby’, the ill-fated ‘Ana Manuela’, and ‘Kapamilya Blockbusters’, a sign that ABS-CBN is letting GMA dominate the afternoon slot.

Speaking of reruns, ABS-CBN brought back the highly successful ‘Meteor Garden’ to rave reviews. Later reruns of Asianovelas and even classic Japanese cartoons such as ‘Princess Sarah’ proved unsuccessful, however.

Controversy hounded ‘Pinoy Big Brother: All In’ from the moment the mostly celebrity cast was selected all the way to late-coming housemate Daniel Matsunaga’s victory. It also spelled doom for ‘It’s Showtime’ hosts Vhong Navarro (beaten by Cedric Lee’s group) and Billy Crawford (post-Star Magic Ball fiasco), thus continuing the infamous curse.

And finally, ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs had its own share of problems. February saw a questionable report on ‘Bandila’ regarding a ‘flesh-eating disease’ in Pangasinan, and then several months later, ‘TV Patrol’ anchor Korina Sanchez made an unnecessary remark about Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby), praying that the storm would swerve to Japan.

Outlook

Fortunately for the Kapamilya network, Marc Logan kept things light and loose when his show, ‘Mga Kwento ni Marc Logan’, premiered last August. But seriously, this was another successful year for ABS-CBN, even with the problems and controversies surrounding it.

Looking ahead, a reunion between Jolina Magdangal and Marvin Agustin looms in ‘Flordeliza’, even as ‘Pangako sa ‘Yo’ will have its own reboot with Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla. This and a lot more will come as the calendar turns to 2015.

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Decision Time for the NBA on ABS-CBN

The 2014 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat will be shown on free TV’s ABS-CBN Channel 2, in the final year of its 3 1/2 year co-production deal with Solar Sports.

The NBA Finals begin Friday morning. And for ABS-CBN Sports, this will be their last chance to show NBA fans in the Philippines that they deserve to air the games live on free TV.

This year’s NBA Finals will mark the end of a 3 1/2 year co-production agreement between Solar Sports and ABS-CBN Sports. The agreement, signed in time for the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend, came after erstwhile coveror RPN/Solar TV decided to rebrand into ETC.

However, the Solar/ABS-CBN alliance proved to be problematic from the beginning. The Kapamilya network was criticized for broadcasting a majority of the games on a delayed basis, something previous partner RPN rarely did. Much of the blame was centered on the games aired on Channel 2, which prioritizes more on its news and entertainment programs rather than sports events like the NBA.

In fact, in the recent NBA Finals, Monday games that begin at 8:00 am Manila time were aired on a delayed basis simply because of Kris Aquino’s lifestyle show ‘Kris TV’. Perhaps ABS-CBN does not want to risk preempting her show, or that Kris was too influential for the network. In any event, these recent decisions by ABS-CBN Sports does not sit well with most fans.

Fans have also balked at how the NBA assigns its games to its global broadcast partners. In fact, this year’s playoffs saw less compelling series such as the Indiana-Atlanta and Brooklyn-Toronto series feature prominently on Basketball TV, while the Miami Heat and some of the Western Conference series were usually given to ABS-CBN Sports. Similar complaints also took place in more recent postseasons, thanks in large part to social media.

And there is also the bad case of lack of timing and advertisement overload. Ads such as KFC, Tanduay and Master astringents have interrupted game commentary prior to tipoff or a play, before the commercial break, and after a game. Perhaps the most insulting part of ABS-CBN’s repertoire is the fact that they cut any player interviews at halftime and postgame just to show sponsored highlights or game scores.

As the NBA Finals begin this Friday, a decision needs to be made with regards to the fate of the league’s Philippine free TV coverage. ABS-CBN should be in the running for renewal, since ratings for the NBA games have been very good despite numerous complaints.

Another possible contender may be Sports5, whose open slots in the morning may be more suitable to live NBA coverage than ABS-CBN’s. And while GMA may be considered a dark-horse contender, their lack of a sports division may prevent them from even bidding for NBA rights.

For now, the NBA coverage will remain with ABS-CBN Sports, at least until the end of this year’s Finals. But a decision regarding NBA’s free TV rights in the Philippines will have to begin as soon as possible. And basketball fans can’t wait.

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