A Bilingual NBA Finals on ABS-CBN Sports

English or Filipino?

That has been a long-standing dilemma for NBA fans whenever the Finals begin. For the past several years, they have two options to choose from: free TV NBA Finals coverage featuring local commentators in the Filipino language, or cable TV NBA Finals coverage featuring American commentators in the English language.

This year is different, however.

For the 2017 NBA Finals, ABS-CBN decided to air every game live on its flagship Channel 2. As always, the broadcast on Channel 2 features Filipino-language commentary, led by Boom Gonzalez and TJ Manotoc who were assigned on-site.

But that’s not where it all ended. The network also elected to air the Finals live on S+A channel 23 as well, albeit with the use of American commentators in the English language.

The main reason behind this bilingual simulcast of the finals is simple: to cater to two types of NBA fans. After all, there are some fans who like the Filipino broadcast while others choose to listen to the more natural American broadcast.

The decision also stems from the controversy surrounding SkyCable and Solar Entertainment. Thanks to the sudden pullout of the latter’s Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV from SkyCable’s lineup, ABS-CBN has no choice but to air the English commentary of the Finals on S+A to benefit disgruntled subscribers.

However, for those who have Cignal and Cablelink in their service, there is no need to worry. Solar Entertainment’s Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV are also covering the NBA Finals in its original English form.

As of June 6, the Golden State Warriors are leading the Cleveland Cavaliers 2-0 in the 2017 NBA Finals. The Warriors are also undefeated in postseason play, with 14 wins through its 14 games.

Games 3 and 4 will take place this Thursday and Saturday respectively in Cleveland. If necessary, Game 5 (at Golden State) will be next Tuesday, Game 6 (at Cleveland) on June 16 and Game 7 (at Golden State) on June 19.

More Trouble for Basketball TV with Delayed NBA Playoff Games

Basketball TV’s problems are as frustrating as ever.

Nearly a month after the channel unknowingly disappeared from SkyCable alongside fellow Solar Entertainment channels Solar Sports, Jack TV, NBA Premium TV and CT, viewers are now forced to deal with another concern. And this is something not as troublesome as a mere channel pullout, but is still an issue nonetheless.

Since the beginning of the NBA Playoffs, BTV has aired mostly tape-delayed games, particularly late in the first round and all of the conference semifinals so far. It appears that Solar has officially deferred to NBA Premium TV, FOX Sports and ABS-CBN Sports when it comes to all live playoff games, leaving BTV to air mostly highlights and press conferences.

BTV’s obvious inaction and lack of urgency angered a majority of viewers who expected the channel to deliver when it mattered the most.¬†Many are unhappy with BTV’s delayed broadcasts of playoff games and overemphasis on press conferences and game highlights, and some even went as far as calling BTV ‘crap’ and ‘disgraceful’.

This latest bit of criticism only served to add insult to injury for one of Solar Entertainment’s most well-known¬†channels.¬†With ABS-CBN Sports now serving as the de facto source for NBA basketball to¬†free TV, cable and satellite viewers, BTV is left helpless with the way they harshly treated the NBA Playoffs.

To Solar’s credit, they are still trying their best to give BTV an opportunity to showcase some NBA playoff games to the viewing public. It is the scheduling of these games, not to mention the long-standing issues with SkyCable, however, that leaves a lot to be desired.

That said, it is clear that Solar Entertainment is no longer a good fit to run Basketball TV (and NBA Premium TV for that matter) with all these issues involved. Unless they sell it to a more willing operator like ABS-CBN (click this article for more), expect BTV to endure more problems and criticisms in the coming months.

Solar Channels Unavailable on SkyCable, Plus FOX Loses WWE Rights to TV5

Bad news for NBA and WWE fans in the Philippines.

Since last week, Solar Entertainment channels Basketball TV, NBA Premium TV, Jack TV, Solar Sports and CT were unavailable on SkyCable. The message posted by the company is as follows:

SKY regrets to inform its valuable subscribers that Solar channels, namely NBA Premium, BTV, Jack TV, Solar Sports, and CT are temporarily not available. It is unfortunate that it has affected the airing of the NBA playoffs.

Solar has been our valued partner for many years. We are working with them for a resolution, but we cannot comment on the details of our discussions.

NBA fans, however, can continue to watch the playoff games beginning this Sunday, April 16, all through the finals via ABS-CBN Sports + Action and Fox Sports channel. They can check the updated schedules posted here.

The concerns of our subscribers and viewers are of utmost importance to us. Again, we offer our sincere apologies for the inconvenience.

The loss of Solar channels hit NBA fans hard, as Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV air a majority of the games daily per season. As a result, the NBA decided to appease the demands of viewers by assigning two games per day on ABS-CBN’s S+A channel, plus a select amount on Fox Sports Philippines and ABS-CBN Channel 2 while the situation is being fixed.

This is not the first time that SkyCable viewers vented their anger over the company’s issues with Solar Entertainment. In 2008, SkyCable pulled out Basketball TV, Jack TV and Solar Sports in favor of Creative Programs’ own channels due to an alleged television contract issue with Manny Pacquiao, but the channels were later reinstated.

Moving over to the world of sports-entertainment, FOX Philippines stunned Filipino wrestling fans by announcing that they will no longer carry WWE programs on the network after an attempt to negotiate a renewal failed to materialize. The statement can be seen below.

FOX had been a valued partner of the WWE since 2011, airing not only pay-per-views, 205 Live, NXT, Raw and SmackDown, but also complementary programs. However, the network drew the ire of some wrestling fans when it failed to air a select number of pay-per-views following the brand extension last July.

In a related development, TV5 announced that they have agreed to air WWE programs beginning April 30. No further details were made, but the network is expected to use Channel 5, AksyonTV and HYPER as vehicles to broadcast WWE events, both live and recap.

It remains to be seen if TV5 will do the same things that FOX used to do, but regardless, wrestling fans should rejoice this decision. Good luck.

What Happened to ABS-CBN Sports’ Top Rank Boxing?

An eight-year relationship came to an end when Top Rank Boxing ceased to air on ABS-CBN’s S+A earlier this month. (Logo courtesy of Top Rank)

A long-time ally of ABS-CBN Sports has called it quits.

On March 5, ABS-CBN Sports quietly¬†cancelled the long-running boxing show ‘Top Rank Boxing’ off the network’s S+A channel.¬†The announcement came¬†shortly before the promotion¬†decided to cease ties with Nonito Donaire after an eight-year relationship.

It can be recalled that in late 2009, ABS-CBN Sports and Top Rank joined forces in a broadcast deal that would showcase the latter’s top fighters. This resulted in ‘Top Rank Boxing’, a program that soon became a staple on Channel 23’s two iterations (Studio 23, ABS-CBN Sports+Action/S+A).

Airing every Sunday afternoon, ‘Top Rank Boxing’ gave boxing fans a peek at the promotion’s current and future stars. The show was hosted by Anton Roxas and Atty. Ed Tolentino for a majority of its seven-year run.

While most of the fights on the show were previously recorded, there were some occasions where a fight card was shown on a delayed basis. Not only that, some editions of ‘Top Rank Boxing’ were aired on ABS-CBN Channel 2, particularly the fights involving Nonito Donaire.

Despite its premise of showing the¬†best fighters, there was one top boxer with which ABS-CBN Sports has no rights to.¬†Manny Pacquiao, considered to be Top Rank’s biggest asset, has broadcast ties with both Solar Sports and GMA Network, thus prohibiting¬†ABS-CBN from showcasing the Pacman.

Solar and GMA’s¬†deal with Pacquiao also prevented ABS-CBN from¬†airing Nonito Donaire’s final fight as a Top Rank fighter on November 6, when he fought Jessie Magdaleno in a losing effort. Despite that, ABS-CBN did air a Pacquiao fight when it showcased the mega-bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015 alongside TV5, GMA and Solar Sports.

With the cancellation of ‘Top Rank Boxing’, ABS-CBN Sports’ focus on the sport will shift full-time to Michael Aldeguer’s ALA Promotions. The ‘Pinoy Pride’ series, which continues to take place¬†on certain dates of the year, will remain on the ABS-CBN Sports’ roster of programs.

As for Nonito Donaire, good luck in finding a new promoter. One can only hope that his fights will continue to air on Channel 2 for a foreseeable future, regardless of which promotion he ends up.

So long, ‘Top Rank Boxing. The Kapamilya boxing fans will miss you.

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.

Solar Sports, BTV Cancel Airing of NCRUCLAA

A month after the season opened, Basketball TV and Solar Sports unexpectedly pulled the plug on the NCRUCLAA coverage. (Logos courtesy of the NCRUCLAA and Solar Entertainment)

A month after the season opened, Basketball TV and Solar Sports unexpectedly pulled the plug on the NCRUCLAA coverage. (Logos courtesy of the NCRUCLAA and Solar Entertainment)

The promising television coverage of the NCRUCLAA (National Capital Region Universities and Colleges of Luzon Athletic Association) came to an abrupt halt.

For some unknown reason, host networks Solar Sports and Basketball TV decided to stop airing the fledgling collegiate basketball league after only a month’s worth of coverage. No explanation was given with regards to the sudden cancellation, but a possible case of low funds may have¬†come into play.

It can be recalled that the newly-established NCRUCLAA signed a television contract with Solar Entertainment in December of last year. The league, which consists of 16 member schools, opened its basketball season on January 17.

Both Solar Sports and Basketball TV tried its very best to seriously promote the NCRUCLAA. Unfortunately, the game’s delayed coverage and overwhelming amount of matches¬†(quadruple-headers start at around 11:00 a.m.), lack of advertisers and conflicts with other programming took its toll, and by late February, both networks ceased airing the league’s games.

The issues of local basketball coverage is nothing new to Solar Entertainment.¬†During their three seasons handling the PBA (2008-11), Solar lost a lot of money due to¬†technical issues hounding their coverage of the league, and in their final season, they were forced to move to rival ABS-CBN’s Studio 23 following CS9’s rebrand to ETC.

Going further back, Solar also used to handle the defunct Philippine Basketball League for a few seasons. Unfortunately, the league’s internal issues affected both the coverage and the quality of the games, and the PBL soon disappeared by 2011.

While Solar did make amends when they aired NAASCU games without any incident last year, it was clear that the company can only go as far as Wilson Tieng can take them. Which leads to the abrupt cancellation of NCRUCLAA coverage, one that is once again giving Solar plenty of headaches.

That said, without the additional financial backing of rivals ABS-CBN Sports and Sports5, Solar Sports continues to find themselves in a predicament that is too steep to climb out. They may have had the privilege of covering NBA games and Manny Pacquiao fights, but local coverage-wise, they are still too far behind to make an impact.