Philippines, Sports, television

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.

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Philippines, Sports, television

The NCAA Season 92 on ABS-CBN Sports: An Overview

Year 2 (12th overall) of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports is now underway.

The 92nd season of the NCAA kicked off last Saturday with the traditional opening ceremonies and the first seniors doubleheader, headlined by the Season 91 finals rematch of arch-rivals San Beda and Letran. The ceremonies were also highlighted by the retirement of San Beda basketball legend Caloy Loyzaga’s no. 14 jersey.

Unfortunately for the fans of the league, the following day’s seniors tripleheader was not aired on ABS-CBN Sports+Action. The reason: ABS-CBN and the NCAA agreed that they will only air games every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for the season, save for last Saturday’s opener.

Not much is changed in the presentation of ABS-CBN’s coverage from Season 91. However, there is a new scheduling format, which include:

  • Seniors tripleheaders every Tuesday and Friday unless specified
  • Seniors doubleheaders every Thursday, usually preceded by juniors doubleheaders
  • Four or five-game juniors slate every Monday

In essence, a week’s worth of NCAA seniors basketball coverage will amount to at most eight games per week. The utilization of tripleheaders and five-game slates on select dates is intended on shortening the duration of the season, however, postponement of games may take place in the event of natural calamities.

Most games will be held at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Select marquee matchups will take place at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

This season’s NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports team will include the following:

Play-by-play announcers

  • Andrei Felix
  • Martin Javier
  • Boom Labrusca
  • Anton Roxas

Analysts

  • Martin Antonio
  • Migs Bustos
  • Olsen Racela
  • Mikee Reyes
  • Renren Ritualo

Courtside reporters

  • Sarah Carlos
  • Roxanne Montealegre
  • Myrtle Sarrosa
  • Ceej Tantengco

Every game day will feature a number of interactive segments, such as halftime school and player features, ‘Smile, You’re on Cam’ and viewer tweets. If last season’s success was any indication, then expect a lot more of these throughout this season.

Aside from seniors basketball (with a mid-season all-star game to boot), the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports will also cover the final four of women’s volleyball and beach volleyball. Highlights from other sports will also be featured on the ABS-CBN Sports+Action highlight show ‘The Score’, hosted by either TJ Manotoc or Anton Roxas.

All games will be seen on ABS-CBN Sports+Action, both in SD (channel 23) and HD (channel 166 and 701). It will also air via live streaming on the ABS-CBN Sports official website.

This season’s theme will be ‘Sports Builds Character: Achieving Breakthrough @Season 92’. San Beda College will be this season’s host.

After the unpredictable ending to Season 91, it will be interesting to see how Season 92 turns out. But if last season’s success was any indication, then wait and see what comes next this season.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Evaluating the First Month of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports V.2

The NCAA’s return to ABS-CBN Sports has been a good one so far. (Logo courtesy of the NCAA)

The second incarnation of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports is now a month old.

The oldest collegiate league in the country returned to ABS-CBN Sports in hopes of getting back on track. So far, though, viewers were treated to a slightly similar broadcast approach as the one that Sports5 previously handled, with a few differences of course.

Here’s a look at how ABS-CBN was able to make their mark on the league so far.

Use of Taglish

Unexpectedly, the network decided to use Taglish while calling the games. In their first run from 2002-12, ABS-CBN Sports announcers called the NCAA games in English, but with Sports+Action increasingly attracting a mass audience, the use of Taglish was necessitated.

This was the same approach that TV5 used when they covered the NCAA, but unfortunately for them, they failed to catch on for various reasons.

Emphasis on Social Media

The NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports also tapped in a new market called social media. Throughout each game, tweets and Instagram posts from players, fans and even basketball enthusiasts are read by the announcers in relation to the game at hand, with an official hashtag to boot.

They even allow announcers to take pre-game selfies (a novel practice in sports broadcasting), which are then posted to their individual Instagram accounts. And for the curious viewers, graphics of the announcers’ names now include their Twitter and/or Instagram accounts.

New Announcers

Speaking of announcers, ABS-CBN Sports employed a mix of young and experienced broadcasters to the NCAA game. Anton Roxas and Andrei Felix were carried over from the original incarnation, while Boom Labrusca, who also doubles as a courtside reporter, is a neophyte to the play-by-play profession.

Unlike TV5 which used former professional players as analysts, ABS-CBN hired mostly former collegiate standouts in order to relate better with the college game. The network has used Mikee Reyes, Migs Bustos, Martin Antonio and Olsen Racela to analyze the games, with Racela having also worked with the Sports5 crew in the past.

Familiar and Not-So Familiar Courtside Reporters

Those who have watched the NCAA so far may notice some familiar and unsuspecting faces to the courtside reporter spot. Before the season began, ABS-CBN Sports announced that cosplayer, Hero TV jock and former ‘Pinoy Big Brother’ housemate Myrtle Sarrosa would be one of the courtside reporters for the season.

Since then, Myrtle was joined by the aforementioned Boom Labrusca, followed by Ceej Tantengco and Rox Montealegre. Quite a familiar bunch, but one with little experience to the world of sports.

The ABS-CBN Sports courtside reporters have three different responsibilities:

  1. To report on the teams’ strategies,
  2. To interview a player’s family members and friends, school alumni, students or fans, and
  3. To interview players and coaches during pregame and postgame (if applicable)

The said strategy is similar to what TV5 employed, but with less on-cam time.

Halftime Presentations

Halftime of each game usually consists of a brief glimpse of a school’s cheering exhibition, followed by a special feature and an analysis of the first half. For the viewers who had enough of TV5’s radical changes (e.g. Moneyball), this is a welcome development to bring back the intended mission of the NCAA: to promote loyalty, camaraderie and school spirit.

HD Broadcasts and Return of Smart and PLDT

In a surprise move, ABS-CBN welcomed Smart and PLDT as sponsors. The two telecommunications outfits are a sister company of ABS-CBN’s competitor TV5, which is a stunning move to say the least.

And finally, the NCAA games are now broadcast in its full 16:9 HD glory. While ABS-CBN Sports was the first to broadcast an event in HD, they did not fully take advantage of the new technology until this year.

So far, it’s been a beneficial first month of NCAA coverage. And while some would disagree with these moves, ABS-CBN is clearly intent on taking serious steps to make the NCAA more appealing to the masses.

The season is still a long way to go, but from the looks of it, the NCAA has found a perfect partner to thrive with. With a few tweaks, expect this partnership to last a lot longer.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Overview: NCAA Season 91 on ABS-CBN Sports

The NCAA Season 91 begins this Saturday, with San Beda trying to win an unprecedented sixth seniors’ title in a row. (Photo credit: Philstar.com)

NCAA Season 91 is five days away.

The latest season of the Philippines’ oldest collegiate league will emanate from the Mall of Asia Arena, where the opening ceremonies and a seniors basketball doubleheader will kick things off. The doubleheader will pit defending champion San Beda versus season host Mapua, and Season 90 runner-up Arellano against perennial contender JRU.

It will also be a homecoming of sorts, as ABS-CBN Sports will once again handle the television broadcasts for the NCAA games. The said network recently inked a ten-year contract that would lead up to the league’s centennial season.

A new format for weekly games is also in order. Like last season, seven seniors games will be held per week, but the new scheme will now feature doubleheaders on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a tripleheader on Fridays.

Other than the opening doubleheaders, which are scheduled at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, all games in the first round will be held at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan. The second round schedule, to be released once the first round is finished, will feature most games in San Juan and may feature some marquee games at the MOA.

All of the aforementioned games will be aired live on ABS-CBN Sports+Action, and will be simulcast in high definition on Balls HD. Online livestreaming of the games will also be available on sports.abs-cbn.com, while same-day replays will be aired in the evening on Balls.

ABS-CBN Sports will utilize the following on-air talents for the NCAA games (tentative as of June 23, 2015):

Play-by-play

  • Anton Roxas
  • Andrei Felix

Analysts

  • Martin Antonio
  • Migs Bustos
  • Mikee Reyes
  • Allan Gregorio
  • Olsen Racela

Courtside reporter

  • Myrtle Sarrosa

By all accounts, it seems that ABS-CBN Sports will be using TV5’s approach in handling games, at least for this season. But don’t expect Moneyball or some other gimmick to show up during ABS-CBN’s coverage.

The selection of Sarrosa as the sole courtside reporter was also an interesting decision by network management, since ABS-CBN Sports popularized the use of students as courtside reporters for their schools. But with the network short of time to prepare for the NCAA games, they decided to tap the ‘Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition 4’ winner instead.

In addition to seniors basketball, ABS-CBN Sports will also air highlights to the other NCAA disciplines. Finals of juniors basketball and the final four of women’s volleyball will likewise be aired.

The return of the NCAA to ABS-CBN Sports should help reestablish order and prominence within the league. It remains to be seen if the latter can improve the shortcomings that Sports5 endured, but from their previous experience covering the NCAA, they should do just fine.

NCAA Season 91 unwraps this Saturday at 12:00 p.m. on ABS-CBN Sports+Action, Balls HD and sports.abs-cbn.com.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

A Viewer’s Guide to the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend

 

This year’ NBA All-Star Weekend in the Philippines will again be shared by both ABS-CBN and Solar’s Basketball TV.

On February 15-17 (Manila time), the NBA will once again stage its annual All-Star Weekend. And at the midseason classic in New Orleans, hundreds of media outlets around the world, including the Philippines, will be on hand to cover the proceedings.

Here’s is a viewer’s guide on how to watch the NBA All-Star Weekend in the Philippines.

ABS-CBN, Solar Will Use Separate Feeds

ABS-CBN will send Boom Gonzales and TJ Manotoc to cover the All-Star Game. Like last year, the duo will also be on hand to call the All-Star Saturday events. As a result of Boom’s assignment to the All-Star Game, the UAAP women’s volleyball play-by-play for the rest of the eliminations will be handled by Anton Roxas and Eric Tipan. The Rising Stars Challenge on ABS-CBN will likely use TNT’s broadcasters.

Basketball TV and NBA Premium will use the TNT play-by-play for all three events. In addition, BTV will send Riki Flores to do player interviews and document other All-Star events such as Jam Session. Riki’s All-Star coverage will be used on the short segments ‘The Grind’, ‘One on One’, and ’24 Seconds’.

Both networks will be using the NBA TV International feed for all three events.

All-Star Saturday and All-Star Game on Sports + Action

Unfortunately, ABS-CBN Channel 2 will only broadcast the Rising Stars Challenge. The rest of the All-Star events will be handled by sister network ABS-CBN Sports + Action on Channel 23, as the broadcast of these events will be in conflict with ABS-CBN programs such as ‘Matanglawin’, ‘Kapamilya: Minute to Win It’ (last two weeks), and ‘Be Careful with My Heart’.

Expanded Coverage on Basketball TV and NBA Premium

And finally, from February 15-17, most, if not all programs on Basketball TV and NBA Premium will be related to All-Star Weekend. This includes Jam Session, the All-Star Celebrity Game, the NBA D-League’s own All-Star Weekend, Commissioner Adam Silver’s press conferences, pre-event and post-event coverage of the Rising Stars, All-Star Saturday and All-Star Game, and the player practices for the All-Star Game. The NBA TV feed will be used for most of the programs.

With that, I expect both networks to give their best in broadcasting the annual NBA All-Star Weekend. The showcase is a fun and exciting event that basketball fans will surely not miss. After all, it is an ‘All-Star Weekend’, where the league’s best players converge in one roof.

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