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The End of Sports5 Center?

Sports5 Center was shelved during this year’s PBA Philippine Cup Semifinals in favor of ‘Money Ball: Dribol Op Da Pipol’, as mounting costs loom.

Last week, TV5 introduced the ‘Money Ball: Dribol Op Da Pipol’ trivia game at every halftime of PBA games. However, the debut of the Android-based game also led to the ‘cancellation’ of the analysis segment ‘Sports5 Center’, which despite its entertaining and loose nature, has proven costly to Sports5’s production.

One of the first acts of Sports5 upon its reacquisition of PBA coverage in 2011 was to create a more entertaining pregame, halftime and postgame segment that was initially titled as ‘AKTV Center’. Here, the studio host and analyst(s) interact with various guests (namely current and former PBA players, and occasionally showbiz personalities) in discussing the games in general, with showbiz-related topics thrown on occasion. It also allows the viewers to interact with the hosts via social media through a question posted prior to each game.

Originally, ‘AKTV Center’ aired during most game days, except during provincial and non-Wednesday, Friday and Sunday matches, and was produced at the TV5 studios in Novaliches and at the game venues during the Finals. However, when TV5 decided not to renew its blocktime deal with IBC-13 nearly two years later, the segment was renamed as ‘Sports5 Center’, and was aired only on select games at the venues, before reducing it to only Sundays and eventually eschewing it in favor of ‘Money Ball’.

The ‘cancellation’ of ‘Sports5 Center’ hurts a lot. Why? Because this was the first time that the PBA experimented with a pregame, halftime and postgame show, similar to what the NBA’s national broadcasters are doing these days.  ‘Sports5 Center’ is essentially part-educational and part-entertainment, in a way that it has become very similar to ‘Inside the NBA’. But with TV5 still trying to solve its programming dilemma in hopes of airing all PBA games at its main outlet, and with the logistical consequences of setting up a temporary studio at the game venues, it appears that these segments will be out of the picture for the foreseeable future.

For now, there is no such thing as a halftime report in the PBA. In that case, good luck with the not-so entertaining halftime show known as ‘Money Ball: Dribol Op Da Pipol’.