Philippines, Sports, television

Too Much for TV: Why MPBL’s Sudden Expansion Will Be Burdensome to the League

From the ‘Original 10’ to the ‘New 16’.

A total of 16 new teams will join 10 holdovers for the upcoming MPBL Datu Cup that will start this June. The ‘New 16’ will include seven teams from Metro Manila, four teams from Luzon, one team from Visayas, and four teams from Mindanao.

The new teams are:

  • Bacoor Strikers
  • Basilan Shooters
  • Cebu City Sharks
  • Davao Occidental Tigers
  • GenSan Warriors
  • Laguna Heroes
  • Makati Skyscrapers
  • Mandaluyong El Tigre
  • Manila Stars
  • Marikina Shoemasters
  • Pampanga Lanterns
  • Pasay Voyagers
  • Pasig Pirates
  • Rizal Ankle Breakers
  • San Juan Knights
  • Zamboanga Valientes

They will join the ‘Original 10’ teams that first competed in the MPBL Anta Rajah Cup, all of which are based within Luzon. The tournament, which ran from January to April of this year, was won by the Tanduay Batangas City Athletics.

But with the sudden addition of 16 new teams comes a new dilemma for Arnold Vegafria’s ALV Productions. The producer of the MPBL games on ABS-CBN S+A will now have to deal with increased scheduling, travel and production expenses, although for now the non-Luzon teams will not have any home games due to logistical concerns.

In the upcoming Datu Cup, 25 games will be played among the 26 teams. Since the Philippines does not have regional sports networks similar to those in the U.S., the MPBL will be forced to add more game days and stretch the duration of the tournament so that it will run for almost the entire year (barring holidays and weather disturbances).

This means that S+A, the network partner of the league, may have to deal with near-daily doubleheaders all year round. But with so many new teams and games to air, S+A might not be able to fully commit with the MPBL given its coverage of other events such as the ONE Championship and the ASEAN Basketball League.

Such a long tournament may also take its toll on the fans. While the MPBL managed to sell out games regularly during the Anta Rajah Cup, the Datu Cup could see some semblance of unpredictability attendance-wise, and if the MPBL is not careful in dealing with the lengthy schedule, it could lose some of its audience.

This will be a huge test for S+A, ALV and the MPBL to see if expansion will reap some benefits. It will not be easy for either one of them to deal, so each must play a key role in managing this tournament well.

Advertisements
Standard
Philippines, Sports, television

Barely Recognizable: PBA News Seldom Mentioned in Other Networks

Hardly mentioned: News surrounding the PBA is a seldom occurrence in ABS-CBN and GMA newscasts. (Photo credit: Philippine Basketball Association)

News surrounding the Philippine Basketball Association is hard to come by these days.

Once one of the Philippines’ national pastimes, the league has fallen on hard times in recent years due to a bevy of controversies. Nowadays, the PBA is barely mentioned at all in  TV networks outside ESPN5, a byproduct of declining interest that has alarmed the league of late.

One network, in particular, has repeatedly shunned the PBA when it comes to sports news. Enter ABS-CBN and its family of networks.

In ABS-CBN’s most recent year-end sports report, there was not even a single mention about the PBA. The network, in particular, failed to account the 50,000 or so crowd that saw Barangay Ginebra San Miguel win Game 7 of the Governors’ Cup finals over the Meralco Bolts, or the two championships won by the San Miguel Beermen last season, or the Christian Standhardinger-Chito Narvasa controversy.

It has been a pattern that is constant for the past several years. Instead of the PBA, ABS-CBN’s TV newscasts focused more on its sports properties such as the UAAP, NCAA, NBA and ABL, as well as national teams such as the Gilas basketball team and the Azkals football team.

In fairness, ANC’s Hardball, DZMM’s Fastbreak and ABS-CBN’s sports and news websites always make up for the newscasts’ oversight by mentioning and even talking about the PBA in greater detail. But even that is not enough to slap some sense in ABS-CBN’s mindset.

Now what about GMA? While they also report about the PBA on their news websites, they also do not mention the league’s news on their newscasts, and worse, they barely care about the world of sports at all since they do not even have a sports division.

Which leaves us to the only two networks that do take a look at the PBA on a regular basis: PTV-4’s ‘PTV Sports’ and CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’. Much like the PBA, they are hardly recognizable in the viewers’ consciousness, but at least they are doing their best to cover the league’s latest news with consistency and detail.

But for the two network giants in South Triangle, not mentioning the PBA on television is an disgrace to the league. Yes its popularity may have slipped of late due to these internal issues, but the PBA is still an important part of the Filipino sporting landscape and something needs to be done to rekindle the league’s interests.

Standard
Philippines, Sports, television

The Latest on Basketball TV: NBL and PCCL

Basketball TV is still alive and well.

Despite the spate of problems that plagued the network this year, it appears that BTV is soldiering on. And recently, two new basketball leagues were added to BTV’s portfolio.

Australia’s National Basketball League came to BTV last October. Founded in 1979, the eight-team league consists of teams from Australia and New Zealand.

BTV’s acquisition of the NBL is seen as a response to ABS-CBN Sports’ addition of the ASEAN Basketball League and the loss of FIBA basketball to ESPN5. After all, with the network being derided as a poor man’s NBA Premium TV, they needed to tap into other international leagues to stay relevant, hence the NBL.

However, this is not the first time that the NBL made its way into Philippine shores. During the mid to late 2000s, ESPN Star Sports had the rights to showcase Australia’s top professional basketball league.

With that, the addition of the NBL should give Filipino hoop fans another reason to go beyond the NBA when it comes to finding great basketball talents. However, the NBL is not the only league that BTV added.

Earlier this week, BTV announced that they will also air games of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League alongside Fox Sports Philippines. The PCCL will make its return after a one-year absence due to various logistical issues.

The 2017-18 edition of the PCCL will not only feature the customary 5-on-5 national tournament that will determine the national collegiate champion, but also a 3-on-3 national tournament. Fox Sports will air the 3-on-3 games, while BTV will have the rights to the 5-on-5 tournament.

BTV is no stranger to the PCCL tournament. The network (along with Solar Sports) had the rights to air the PCCL during the mid-2000s, after which ABS-CBN Sports acquired the PCCL rights to capitalize on the popularity of UAAP and NCAA basketball.

However, ABS-CBN and the PCCL organizers decided to cut ties in 2017 amid questions surrounding the league’s credibility. The entire 2017 tournament was canceled and it was not until November that the PCCL resurfaced with new partners BTV and Fox Sports Philippines.

One can only hope that these new acquisitions will serve BTV well in the near future. If not, fans should look forward to their next moves.

Standard
Philippines, Sports, television

ABS-CBN Sports: Basketball TV’s Only Hope

The loss of FIBA basketball and the abrupt cancellation of the NCRUCLAA coverage has hurt Basketball TV’s profile of late. (Logo courtesy of Solar Entertainment)

Basketball TV’s 10th year on the air has not been a smooth-sailing one.

The Solar Entertainment-owned network has seen plenty of losses in the last several months. Not only did it lose the FIBA basketball rights to Sports5, it also cut short its broadcast of the fledgling NCRUCLAA men’s basketball tournament a month into its maiden season.

On the positive side though, they managed to air an entire season’s worth of the NAASCU men’s basketball tournament while continuing its long and loyal commitment to the NBA and its related properties. Still, BTV’s increasing irrelevance has put a lot of pressure on Solar, and with the costs still growing, BTV’s days appear to be numbered.

There is a reason why BTV is known as ‘Basketball TV’: it is the home to a variety of basketball tournaments. While the network centers around the NBA, it also aired a number of other tournaments as well, such as the Euroleague, the U.S. NCAA March Madness, and local leagues such as the PBA and the defunct Philippine Basketball League.

However, as 2017 proved to be a poor year for both BTV and Solar, it is clear that the former needs a lot of help. At this point, a backup financier is all that BTV requires, and they can look no further than a fellow coveror of NBA games.

Back in 2011, ABS-CBN Sports signed a deal with the NBA to cover its games on free TV. Now the partnership between ABS-CBN and the NBA is six years strong, and they also expanded their scope online when ABS-CBN signed a contract with the NBA to operate the Filipino website of NBA.com.

ABS-CBN Sports also carry a wealth of experience covering local basketball. The network has existing deals with the UAAP and NCAA, and more recently, they began to broadcast the ASEAN Basketball League, along with grassroots basketball tournaments such as the NBTC and Slam Rising Stars competitions.

If Basketball TV wants to survive this cutthroat world of cable television, their only hope right now is to join forces with ABS-CBN Sports. With the latter’s experience and deep pockets, they could help BTV in any way, shape or form when it comes to providing top-notch basketball coverage.

It may take some time to materialize, but let’s face it, this is the only choice for BTV given their recent issues. That said, let’s just hope that Solar will be willing to allow rival ABS-CBN Sports to resuscitate BTV, and in doing so, alleviate the pressure of running a high-profile cable channel in the Philippines.

Standard
Philippines, Sports, television

ABL to Air on ABS-CBN S+A Starting This Week

Games of the Alab Pilipinas team will now air on ABS-CBN S+A, thanks to a new deal that gave the latter the broadcast rights to the Asean Basketball League. (Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Games of the Alab Pilipinas team will now air on ABS-CBN S+A, thanks to a new deal that gave the latter the broadcast rights to the ASEAN Basketball League. (Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Add the ASEAN Basketball League to ABS-CBN Sports’ growing portfolio.

Beginning this Sunday, November 27, games of the upcoming ABL season will air on S+A channel 23 and on ABS-CBN Sports’ official website. The broadcasts will include all home games of the Alab Pilipinas team, as well as a select number of contests.

The ASEAN Basketball League will enter its seventh season of operation. While the league traditionally consists of teams based in Southeast Asian countries, two East Asia-based clubs will join the ABL this season.

The two clubs in question are the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions and the Kaohsiung Truth. They will join the aforementioned Alab Pilipinas club, along with holdovers Saigon Heat, Westports Malaysia Dragons and the Singapore Slingers.

The history of the ABL in the Philippines has been influential and controversial, with one season featuring no Filipino representative. Twice a Filipino club won the ABL championship (2009-10 Philippine Patriots and 2013 San Miguel Beermen), while one other team (2015-16 Pilipinas MX3 Kings) managed to survive only one season due to mismanagement.

The league also saw some Filipino and Fil-foreign players suit up as imports for other teams, mainly to influence and guide local talent. And last season, current Phoenix Fuel Masters head coach Ariel Vanguardia won the ABL championship with the Westports Malaysia Dragons.

Despite that, the ABL remains a league that is not necessarily known to the average Filipino. Local television coverage of the league has been spotty, with networks such as ESPN Star Sports (later FOX Sports Asia), PTV-4, TV5 and Solar Sports providing only a season’s worth of ABL broadcasts.

That said, the deal with ABS-CBN Sports should give the ABL even greater exposure than before. With the former’s vast broadcast range and up-to-date facilities, it should help the ABL reach out further to every Filipino household.

Let’s just hope that the relationship between the ABL and ABS-CBN Sports will last longer than one season, provided that the Philippines will continue its representation. As for Alab Pilipinas, good luck.

Standard