Philippines, Sports, television

No More: Solar Sports Not Involved in Pacquiao Fight vs. Matthysse

For the first time since 2006, a new Manny Pacquiao fight was not aired on Solar Sports.

Manny Pacquiao’s latest bout, a seventh round knockout win over Lucas Matthysse to capture the WBA Welterweight Title, was conspicuously absent from Solar Sports programming. The reason: MP Productions, led by Arnold Vegafria, chose not to sign a broadcast deal with Solar Sports for the aforementioned event.

The last time Solar Sports was not involved in the broadcast of a Manny Pacquiao fight was in 2006. That year, ABS-CBN exclusively aired Pacquiao’s fight with Oscar Larios which took place in the Philippines.

In the months leading up to the bout, Solar Sports aired some of Pacquiao’s classic matches every Friday night in hopes of getting a call from Arnold Vegafria. But when the network announced its upcoming list of programs for July 2018, Pacquiao vs. Matthysse was nowhere to be found.

No reason was given behind MP Productions’ decision. However, considering that Solar Sports is now airing less popular sporting events and the circumstances that followed Pacquiao’s loss to Jeff Horn last year, it only made sense for MP to cease ties with the said network.

On a related note, MP was able to secure television deals with ABS-CBN, The 5 Network, GMA, SkyCable and Cignal for the broadcast and distribution of Pacquiao vs. Matthysse. This marked the first time since the heavily-hyped Pacquiao bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015 that the Philippines’ three broadcast giants collaborated for the occasion.

Luckily for the three networks, Pacquiao secured his first knockout victory since 2009. The win came as a surprise to many considering Pacquiao’s age (the fighting senator is 39), his lack of power punching ability relative to his age, and his decision not to have long-time confidant Freddie Roach as his trainer for the bout.

Unfortunately for Solar Sports, Pacquiao’s victory was not only a lost opportunity but also the last straw. Manny Pacquiao bouts had been Solar Sports’ last ticket to relevance in recent years, but without him and his drawing power, the network is now fighting for survival.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

A Filipino Viewer’s Guide to the 2018 NBA Finals

Cavs and Warriors, again.

An unprecedented fourth consecutive meeting in the NBA Finals awaits the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. On one side, the Warriors look to seal their status as a modern-day dynasty, while on the other, the Cavaliers attempt to once again even this long-running saga.

For this year, Filipino viewers will have three different options to watch the NBA Finals. Here are the following ways to experience the Finals.

ABS-CBN Sports

Both ABS-CBN Channel 2 and S+A will simultaneously air the NBA Finals live. Viewers on Channel 2 will hear Filipino commentary hosted by Boom Gonzalez, Ronnie Magsanoc and Benjie Paras, while S+A will use English commentary from ESPN in the U.S., anchored by Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Doris Burke.

Much like more recent NBA Finals broadcasts, Channel 2’s Filipino commentators will call the games straight from the ABS-CBN headquarters in Quezon City. In addition, TJ Manotoc will file reports on-site on news regarding the championship series.

Basketball TV and NBA Premium

The NBA Finals will also be delivered live on Basketball TV and NBA Premium, with both channels using English commentary from ESPN. In addition, BTV and NBA Premium will air extensive pre-game, post-game and off-day coverage of the Finals via NBA TV.

Basketball TV and NBA Premium are currently exclusive to Cignal and Cablelink subscribers only. The two channels are also available on digital TV via the EasyTV digibox (P2999 for purchase and P999 for renewal of subscription), but only for Metro Manila residents.

NBA League Pass

Basketball fans on the go can also watch the NBA Finals on their mobile devices via NBA League Pass. NBALP can be accessed via the NBA Game Time App on Google Play or Apple Store.

For more information on NBA League Pass, visit the NBA official website. For a step-by-step guide on subscribing to NBA League Pass, click the following links for Globe, Smart, PLDT and SkyCable subscribers.

If the last three meetings were of any indication, then expect another compelling battle between the Warriors and Cavs. Still, it remains to be seen if LeBron James will be able to sustain his seemingly one-man act against a deeper and stronger Warriors squad that has won two of the first three championship series.

Either way, NBA fans are in for a treat. Good luck.

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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.

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online, Philippines, Sports, television

PVL Returns to S+A After Controversial Livestream Issue

ABS-CBN has finally heeded the call of disgruntled PVL fans.

It was announced earlier this week that ABS-CBN Sports would air weekend Premier Volleyball League games on S+A in addition to the standard livestream broadcasts online. This came after last weekend’s livestream of the PVL on Tour in Tuguegarao was plagued with technical difficulties that led to many complaints from volleyball fans on social media.

Despite the good news, Wednesday PVL matches will remain exclusive to livestream while S+A will continue to reair UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball games. The full televised slate will only arrive once the semifinals and finals roll around.

The first televised PVL matches since opening day two weeks ago was the second stop of the PVL on Tour, this time in Batangas. Unlike last weekend in Tuguegarao where only four teams saw action, all eight teams, including Batangas native Alyssa Valdez’s Creamline Cool Smashers, participated in the provincial meet.

The next few weekends in the PVL Reinforced Conference schedule will take place in yet-to-be-determined venues. That said, there is a possibility that these matches will remain part of the PVL on Tour series, with the announcement to take place within the next several days.

Despite a partial television schedule, volleyball fans should feel more than satisfied with the response that ABS-CBN Sports gave to them. After all, the PVL has suffered long enough that the need to air more games on television will be key towards restoring the league’s credibility.

Because when the PVL has crowd drawers like Alyssa Valdez and Michele Gumabao, chances are the league will thrive if only they are given the proper exposure and treatment by its broadcast partner. So far, however, the PVL had been on the wrong end of ABS-CBN Sports’ stick, being drowned out by reruns of last season’s UAAP women’s volleyball matches.

To their credit, ABS-CBN Sports listened to its viewers for the sake of the PVL broadcasts, which is a good thing. Now it will be up to them to keep the dice rolling.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Ruining the PVL: ABS-CBN’s Coverage Setup Leaves Fans Angry

It was more of the same result.

The second season of the Premier Volleyball League picked up from where the first season left off, with ABS-CBN Sports airing only a few select games on S+A while leaving the rest of the schedule to livestream. After only a week, however, fans have had enough and voiced their negative sentiments on social media.

This past weekend, the PVL held its games in Tuguegarao featuring Pocari-Air Force Lady Warriors, PayMaya High Flyers, Creamline Cool Smashers and BanKo Perlas. While the four games involving the four teams were compelling and exciting for the fans in attendance, those who watched the game online were dissatisfied over the broadcast.

Saturday’s Pocari-Air Force vs. PayMaya and Creamline vs. Banko livestreams encountered numerous delays and power interruptions that left volleyball fans seething with anger. In response, ABS-CBN Sports Production head Vince Rodriguez explained the motive behind the setup before ending with a seemingly positive remark.

Emphasis on the word ‘discussing’ because for the time being games of the PVL will still be aired only on livestream while talks for more TV coverage are in progress. Case in point: the matches that will take place later today.

As for the schedule on S+A, the network will broadcast a replay of UAAP women’s volleyball as it was the case last weekend. Talk about not moving on.

Suffice to say, the PVL is back to a familiar situation when they were still known as the Shakey’s V-League, in which it encountered TV coverage issues. ABS-CBN Sports was supposed to be the league’s savior when it arrived three years ago, but instead of making the league more exposed to the public, it only worsened its perception among volleyball fans.

Yes the league is proud to have Alyssa Valdez and Michele Gumabao as its standard-bearers, but unless ABS-CBN Sports does something drastic to appease its fans, the PVL will fall behind the shadows of its younger but emerging rival in the Philippine SuperLiga. The time is definitely now for ABS-CBN to take the PVL very seriously and stop pretending to be its pauper.

If this promise is not fulfilled, it might be high time for volleyball fans to switch to the PSL instead, where television and livestream coverage are limitless. Your call, ABS-CBN Sports.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Postmortem: UAAP Season 80 on ABS-CBN S+A

Another UAAP season has closed.

For the most part, UAAP Season 80 was a success. Some new champions were crowned and a few reigning titleholders were able to defend their gold, while new stars emerged and others bowed out.

As for the coverage on ABS-CBN S+A, there were some hits and misses as well. Here is a look back at what the network was able to do in Season 80.

New Upfront

The third season of ‘UAAP Upfront’ eschewed the live pregame presentation in favor of a straight-up lifestyle program dedicated to showcasing the lives of UAAP athletes away from their respective sports. It also aired exclusively during weekends, which helped mitigate whatever production costs S+A endures during live broadcasts.

UAAP Insiders

During the men’s basketball season, S+A added an extra on-air talent known as a UAAP Insider, featuring former courtside reporters Ganiel Krishnan, Angelique Manto, Ira Pablo and Pauline Versoza. Unfortunately, the addition of a UAAP Insider cut some exposure away from the new batch of courtside reporters, and this role was eventually cut prior to the women’s volleyball tournament.

Courtside Reporters

This season’s batch featured no holdovers and the first to feature men since Season 74. However, Adamson representative Nicole Sumagui was dismissed for poor performance and was replaced by predecessor Stef Monce for the rest of the men’s basketball tournament, and Armand Hernandez during the women’s volleyball tournament.

This year’s cast also featured Martie Bautista (Ateneo), Eileen Shi (La Salle), Sydney Crespo (FEU), Miguel Dypiangco (NU), Migs Gomez (UE), Agatha Uvero (UP) and Tonie Moreno (UST). Performance-wise it was satisfactory, but if not for the UAAP Insiders their potential would have been unleashed further.

The Entry of LIGA

Late January saw the launch of LIGA, the new cable channel of ABS-CBN’s Creative Programs Inc. This enabled ABS-CBN Sports to go deeper into UAAP live coverage as it aired the first game of men’s volleyball doubleheaders (plus second game of Sunday doubleheaders) as well as the finals of the softball and baseball tournaments.

Lack of First Semester Coverage

But while the second semester UAAP tournaments were extensively covered by ABS-CBN Sports, the first semester tournaments still leave a lot to be desired. The most noteworthy omission is women’s basketball, which for the most part played on the same day as their men’s basketball counterparts, yet only the finals were aired on S+A.

With the entry of LIGA, perhaps the time is now for the UAAP women’s basketball tournament to be taken seriously. Your call, ABS-CBN.

Overall, UAAP Season 80 broadcasts was good, but still not great. Yes, the slogan for the season was ‘Go for Great’, but in terms of coverage, it was still not above standard as any UAAP fan would want.

With Season 81 taking place in a few months’ time, there are still some kinks with which ABS-CBN Sports must address. That said, it will be interesting to see how the network will change its approach come next season.

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