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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Philippines, Sports, television

Thoughts on ABS-CBN Sports’ Changes to UAAP Men’s Basketball Coverage

Not great enough: ABS-CBN Sports’ changes on the UAAP men’s basketball coverage drew mixed opinions from viewers. (Logo courtesy of ABS-CBN)

Too long, too many.

That was the criticism of some viewers when ABS-CBN Sports began its coverage of UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball. Despite its promise to ‘go for great’, the new-look coverage hasn’t so far lived up to the greatness that ABS-CBN Sports envisioned.

For the first two weeks of UAAP men’s basketball, ABS-CBN added two TV timeouts from the first to third quarters. Those TV timeouts do not count as far as team timeouts were concerned, but despite its intent to rake in more sponsorship money, viewers were not happy with it as these timeouts only lengthen the duration of a game.

In response to viewer backlash, ABS-CBN decided to restrict themselves to only one TV timeout each during the first, second and third quarters. The reduction did not affect the overall game play however, as UAAP men’s basketball games continue to last at an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes per game, which is almost equal to a typical PBA game broadcast.

Another change that ABS-CBN implemented is the concept of the ‘UAAP Insider’. Former courtside reporters Ganiel Krishnan, Angelique Manto, Ira Pablo and Pauline Versoza were promoted to this position, and their responsibility as insiders is to help the announcers preview an upcoming game and interview coaches during halftime.

The addition of the UAAP Insider now brings the overall total of ABS-CBN’s on-air team to five (not including floor directors, cameramen and other behind-the-scenes staff). Unfortunately, these on-air talents receive fewer minutes of airtime compared to a typical courtside reporter, so it remains to be seen how ABS-CBN Sports will treat this new position well.

The pregame show ‘Upfront at the UAAP’ also received a makeover heading into the new season. The program is no longer aired live; instead it takes on a magazine show format that only airs before weekend UAAP men’s basketball games.

The current hosts of ‘Upfront at the UAAP’ are Janeena Chan, Arturo Daza, Martin Javier and Angelique Manto. Of the four, Janeena is the lone holdover from the first season of the program.

Speaking of ‘Upfront at the UAAP’, one of its former hosts has a new role on cam. Former women’s basketball standout Bea Daez was promoted to full-time analyst, and while this is not the first time that a woman will cover a men’s basketball game in the Philippines (Patricia Hizon once called PBA games during its time with Solar Entertainment), it was still a remarkable barrier-breaking achievement.

So far, so good, but not great enough. Notwithstanding these minor hiccups, ABS-CBN Sports has plenty of time to make things up, so let’s see how they will be able to make the UAAP men’s basketball coverage into something that is ‘great’.

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