Philippines, Sports, television

Sports5’s Doubtful and Desperate Future

The ‘Road to Rio’ will be a bumpy one, as TV5 essentially sacrificed its entire programming lineup just for the coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics. This year’s Olympics could decide the future of Sports5 as well. (Photo credit: PhilStar.com)

These are indeed desperate times for TV5.

It has been over a month since the Kapatid network ‘demolished’ (for the lack of a better term) almost its entire programming lineup in favor of unlimited ‘foreignoy’ movies and home shopping blocks. And while their decision may seem ridiculous, they were essentially preparing this demolition job for one particular event.

Enter the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Summer Olympics in Rio will be the fourth such event for TV5, following the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing. As early as now, TV5 is going all out, because as far as they were concerned, this could be their last chance to prove their worth as a force in Philippine sports.

Anyone who has followed TV5 over the years know how much a sports fan Manny V. Pangilinan is. The businessman is best known in the sports world as:

  • owner of three PBA teams (Tropang TNT, Meralco Bolts, NLEX Road Warriors)
  • bankroller of two collegiate teams (Ateneo Blue Eagles, San Beda Red Lions)
  • one-time president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas
  • benefactor of Gilas Pilipinas

His work on TV5 was also an extensive one. Between 2011 and 2012, the Kapatid network snared the rights to several top-flight events, which include the following:

  • Philippine Basketball Association
  • United Football League
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (Philippines)
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (United States)
  • Olympic Games
  • National Football League’s Super Bowl
  • Gilas Pilipinas basketball games

At first, MVP collaborated with IBC-13 for a blocktime deal that became AKTV. But when cash flow problems surfaced, he ended the blocktime agreement and was forced to utilize both TV5 and AksyonTV for their sports coverage.

Unfortunately for TV5, they encountered greater problems in handling such coverage. As a result, their entertainment programming was extremely compromised, while news programs on AksyonTV gradually eroded to the point that they were either cancelled or preempted.

Although the network managed to take advantage of the all-sports channel HYPER on its Cignal subscription service, it is clear that Sports5’s problems are becoming increasingly hard to overcome. Which leads to 2016, the year where the network’s contracts with the PBA, Olympics and the UFL are up for either renewal or expiration.

Considering these irreparable problems, the smart choice of action for TV5 at this point is to not renew their contracts with the said events. But with other networks enduring a variety of obstacles themselves, and with ABS-CBN Sports all too loaded to commit for more events, all signs point to a reluctant renewal.

So what’s next for Sports5? No one knows, but for the next several months, their busy schedule will be an evaluation process to see if they still have what it takes to be a big-time player in Philippine sports.

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FTT Year 2014 in Review: TV5

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 TV5, who made the transition from a mainstream to an alternative station this year.

The Positives

2014 was a year of change for TV5. And some changes were for the better.

A heavily-criticized coverage of the previous PBA season led to several tweaks in TV5’s current schedule. Initially made to benefit the NCAA, the FIBA World Cup, the Youth Olympics and the Asian Games, this was then implemented for the PBA, which was welcomed by fans after expressing their disgust with last season’s coverage.

The year also saw TV5 broadcast other major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, the U.S. NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and the Winter Olympics. Furthermore, they aired the games of the ‘Batang Gilas’ in the 2014 FIBA Under-17 World Championship, keeping in step with the moves made by ABS-CBN Sports.

TV5 viewers also witnessed the premieres of highly-praised weekly series ‘JasMine’ and ‘Trenderas’, as well as a new game show in ‘Quiet Please! Bawal ang Maingay’. TV5 also collaborated with both E! and Wattpad to broadcast ‘It Takes Gutz to Be a Gutierrez’ and ‘Wattpad Presents’, respectively, to good reviews.

And finally, News5 garnered some awards from various bodies, particularly in the programs ‘T3: Enforced’, ‘History with Lourd’, ‘Yaman ng Bayan’ and ‘Bigtime’. ‘It Takes Gutz to Be a Gutierrez’, ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ and ‘Celebrity Dance Battle’ were also honored.

The Negatives

The transformation of TV5 was not without some obstacles, however.

When TV5 revealed its programming lineup for 2014, one of the upcoming programs mentioned was a Philippine adaptation of ‘Pretty Little Liars’. Unfortunately for the network, the project never materialized, even as they denied rumors that it was ‘shelved’.

Not all of TV5’s programs under Noel Lorenzana’s new initiative paid off. The programs that were cancelled in his first full year in charge include the likes of ‘SpinNation’, ‘What’s Up, Doods’, ‘The Mega and the Songwriter’, ‘Killer Karaoke Pinoy Naman’, ‘Face the People’ and ‘Let’s Ask Pilipinas’.

TV5’s sports coverage was also not spared. Early this year, the Kapatid network introduced ‘Moneyball: Dribol op da Pipol’ to its PBA and NCAA coverage, much to the dismay of the more informative and knowledgeable viewers; eventually TV5 relented by moving ‘Sports5 Center’ to the livestream format (as ‘Sports 360’).

AksyonTV, TV5’s sister network, was severely crippled by News5’s programming changes, particularly after the cancellation of its original programs and newscasts ‘Andar ng mga Balita’ and ‘Balitang 60’. As a result, the network became overly dependent on TV5’s programming, which is not a good sign for a news/sports channel like AksyonTV.

The sex scandal involving News5 anchor and Rescue5 leader Paolo Bediones in September also demoralized the network. While he left ‘Aksyon Tonite’ in the midst of the controversy (he was later replaced by Ed Lingao), he did return to host ‘Demolition Job’ and Rescue5 short videos once the impact of his scandal dissipated.

But perhaps the biggest news coming out of TV5’s camp was the departure of Sharon Cuneta. A P1 billion signee of the network a few years ago, Sharon joined TV5 with high expectations, but shows such as ‘Sharon: Kasama Mo Kapatid’, ‘The Mega and the Songwriter’ and ‘Madam Chairman’ failed to deliver.

And finally, there is the annual issue of TV5’s overreliance on Tagalized foreign movies, as well as reruns of local programs.

Outlook

TV5 has already unveiled a list of new and returning programs for 2015, which will be discussed in detail very soon.

It was not a bad year for TV5, even with all the changes that took place. With a new year looming, Lorenzana and company now hope to build on these gains even further, though changes are still to be made as the year progresses.

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March Madness: Solar’s Loss is TV5’s Gain

Top-ranked pro prospect Andrew Wiggins and other college basketball stars will be in the spotlight as the US NCAA March Madness will air on TV5 and its affiliates.

This March, the US NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, more popularly known as ‘March Madness’, will be shown in the Philippines via the networks of TV5. The Kapatid network’s acquisition of March Madness gives the event some much-needed exposure on free TV, something that its previous coveror could not afford. But how did TV5 earn their ticket to ‘March Madness’?

For several years, coverage of March Madness was given to Solar Sports via its all-basketball channel Basketball TV. In addition to the NCAA tournament, the network also aired select regular season and postseason games from popular conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, and the Pacific-10 (later Pacific-12) Conference. However, when BTV did not air any US NCAA college games this year, the March Madness coverage in the country was put into question.

Looking back, there were some shortcomings to BTV’s coverage of March Madness, and of US NCAA basketball in general. Because the network’s primary focus is on the NBA, coverage of regular season college basketball was restricted to tape-delay broadcasts, unlike in Fox Sports Philippines (formerly ESPN) where it can air the games live. Then come March Madness, BTV would be forced to tape-delay NBA games and air a minimum of one game per round, alienating some rabid NBA fans and even college basketball viewers.

With mounting pressure from its viewers, Solar and Basketball TV had no choice but to finally drop the US NCAA college basketball from its lineup. It wasn’t until late February that Sports5 decided to step up, announcing that it has acquired the rights for the US NCAA March Madness. Its announcement came just as the 2014 Winter Olympics on the Kapatid network was about to finish.

Sports5’s coverage of the US NCAA March Madness include free TV broadcasts of select games on TV5 and AksyonTV 41, complementary live broadcasts on cable network Hyper and Cignal HD pay-per-view, and live streaming though PLDT’s broadband services. This means that more games will be offered in each platform, giving college basketball fans additional options to watch their favorite US NCAA schools run towards the championship.

Now that TV5 and its affiliates will have the rights to the US NCAA March Madness, the countdown to the most highly-anticipated college basketball tournament in the world is underway. And college basketball fans can’t wait to watch.

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Martinez Documentary, New ‘Kaya’ on TV5 and Other News

The Olympic journey of Michael Christian Martinez will be featured in the documentary ‘Hero on Ice’ tonight on TV5.

Tonight after ‘Aksyon Weekend’, TV5 will air a special 30-minute documentary called ‘Hero on Ice’. The documentary will focus on Michael Christian Martinez’s life, career, and journey that took him from the small SM rinks to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Along the way, viewers will be treated to an all-access look at Martinez’s trip to Sochi and his preparations for the event. Interviews with family and friends, as well as highlights of his Winter Olympics ice skating routines will also be featured.

As a bonus treat to viewers, the documentary will also look back at Martinez’s triumphant homecoming, followed by the press conference and a skating exhibition at the Mall of Asia rink. ‘Hero on Ice’ is hosted by Chiqui Roa-Puno, and will pre-empt ‘Magic Gimik Revealed’ in its timeslot.

Also on TV5, the documentary series ‘Kaya’ returns with a brand new episode, after giving way to ‘Yaman ng Bayan’ last week. In this episode entitled ‘Tindog’, DJ Sta. Ana will take a look at the rebuilding of Tacloban following its destruction from Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). The series airs after ‘Juan Direction’.

With regards to ‘SpinNation’ which is currently airing on repeats, the second season premiere of the program is currently being delayed by Jasmine Curtis-Smith’s taping schedule for her upcoming self-titled suspense/drama series ‘JasMINE’. The series is scheduled to begin this March 25 at 8 p.m., and will also star the likes of Alwyn Uytingco, Matt Padilla, and Vin Abrenica. Along with the weeknight comedy/drama series ‘Confessions of a Torpe’, the two series will highlight another busy month for the Kapatid network, which will also include the PBA Commissioner’s Cup and the US NCAA March Madness.

Speaking of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the conference begins on March 5, a week after the end of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals. But contrary to what Commissioner Chito Salud had assured, and despite the recent high ratings of the recently concluded Philippine Cup playoffs, the airing schedule from the Philippine Cup eliminations will continue in the upcoming conference, with only the second game of the weekday doubleheaders, first game of Saturday doubleheaders, and both games of Sunday doubleheaders airing live on TV5. However all of the games will be shown live on AksyonTV.

And finally, the US NCAA March Madness will begin in mid-March, and like the preceding Winter Olympics, coverage of the games will be shared by TV5, AksyonTV, Hyper and Cignal HD. With that, good luck to TV5 and its affiliate stations on a busy month to come.

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news, Philippines, Sports, television

PBA D-League Shut Out of TV Coverage

Not even the presence of PBA D-League top pick Chris Banchero of Boracay Rhum, and NU-Banco de Oro’s Bobby Ray Parks, was enough to convince the big television networks to air the D-League.

The PBA D-League was supposed to enjoy its fair share of TV coverage during the 2014 Aspirants Cup. However, none of the big networks came calling.

Back in November, I wrote an article about the D-League’s lack of TV coverage at the start of the Aspirants Cup. Sports5, which has covered the D-League on television since its formation, decided to opt out due to its prior commitments to the NCAA, the PBA, the United Football League, and other sports events such as the then-upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics. In addition, GMA News TV was mentioned to have been negotiating with the PBA for the broadcast of the D-League. However, GMA’s negotiations with the PBA would eventually stall, and as a result, not even a single game of the Aspirants Cup was aired on television.

The lack of television coverage within the PBA D-League is surely a disgrace to the fledgling league. This is the league where college and amateur players converge in hopes of getting noticed by PBA teams in the near future. But with television coverage absent, the only way basketball fans and scouts can take notice is to go to the nearest arena and enter for no additional cost. And that takes a lot of miles and money.

Surely, the D-League deserves a whole lot of attention. But without any TV coverage whatsoever, what will the future hold for this league once the next conference begins this summer?

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TV5 Needs to Improve its News and Sports Broadcasts

TV5 needs to improve its production of sports and news programs in order to be more consistent with the other networks. (Photo courtesy of TV5)

TV5’s sports broadcasting resume was enhanced by acquiring the broadcast rights for this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. However, there are some issues that need to be resolved when it comes to both sports and news coverage.

As I observed the recent Sports5 broadcasts of the NCAA and PBA, there is something wrong with their live coverage, and that involves the announcers and courtside reporters of the said network. Typically announcers are required to wait for the commercials to end before resuming their duties, but in Sports5’s example, the announcers are already speaking once the commercials are done and a live shot of the game is shown. This is a bad example of airing a live sports event.

If Sports5’s vision is to be a leader in sportscasting, their announcers need to improve in terms of timing and thorough delivery. By eliminating this ‘can’t wait’ mentality, the broadcast of a live sports event will be well-produced and consistent. Perhaps they should look at ABS-CBN Sports’ coverage of the UAAP and see why.

Going to the news aspect, I was disgusted by Radyo5 92.3 News FM’s simulcast of ‘T3: Reload’ the other day. Their commercial breaks are too long, so much so that the final segment where Ben, Erwin and Raffy Tulfo usually deliver their final remarks and bid farewell to the viewers never aired. Meanwhile, on AksyonTV’s simulcasts of Radyo5 programs, their ‘Aksyon Breaking’ news segment is also too long, perhaps twice as long as the ‘Aksyon News Update’ on Radyo5, due to the coverage of so many stories and ‘Aksyon Weather’. As a result, the simulcast of the radio program does not start in time on AksyonTV.

Perhaps the most misleading observation is the title ‘Aksyon Breaking’. The title should only be used during live press conferences and urgent breaking news that happen beyond the top of the hour such as ongoing fires, hostage crises, accidents and shooting incidents. ‘Aksyon News Alert’, the title used on TV5, is the more applicable title for AksyonTV’s top-of-the-hour newsbreaks.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions. Whenever ‘T3: Reload’ is aired on Radyo5, they should limit themselves to 30 or 60-second commercial breaks, due to the lengthy resolution of complaints on the program. On ‘Aksyon’, around 120 to 150 seconds is more than enough. And during AksyonTV’s top-of-the-hour newsbreaks, they should limit their stories to just one or two, and deliver them in an average of 40 to 50 seconds. Finally, ‘Aksyon Weather’ should move back to the :30 minute mark of the hour, and include the global and regional weather segments.

TV5 definitely has the potential to produce the best sports and news programming possible. But unless they improve on these aspects, their progression as a media giant will be hindered.

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