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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Philippines, Sports, television

Thoughts on the MPBL on ABS-CBN S+A

A new Filipino basketball league is about to take off.

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, founded by Senator Manny Pacquiao and his business manager Arnold Vegafria, will officially launch later tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The league’s maiden event will begin with an elaborate opening ceremony and a game between the Parañaque Patriots and Caloocan Supremos.

The league’s premise is simple: it consists of 10 teams located around Metro Manila and Luzon (with expansion to Visayas and Mindanao to follow soon) and it also aims to give grassroots athletes and aspiring basketball players a chance to showcase their skills and continue their basketball careers. These 10 teams are as follows:

  1. Parañaque Patriots
  2. Caloocan Supremos
  3. Batangas City Athletics
  4. Valenzuela Classic
  5. Navotas Clutch
  6. Muntinlupa Cagers
  7. Bataan Defenders
  8. Bulacan Kuyas
  9. Imus MPBL team
  10. Quezon City MPBL team

A home-and-away format will be followed so that teams can have a chance to play on their home court in front of their fans. In essence, the MPBL is a developmental league that is more similar to the NBA G League and is inspired from the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).

Let’s face it, the Philippines deserves another basketball league and something had to be done about the surplus of talent. Every basketball player dreams of making it to the PBA but what if there is little to no chance of earning a slot?

Also, what if basketball fans does not have the courage or the resources to watch a basketball game in faraway or big venues? This is exactly what the MPBL does: propagate the game of basketball closer to the fan while giving some undeserved talents a chance to prove their worth.

Not only that, the MPBL will get some much-needed exposure on national television via S+A, the sports channel of ABS-CBN. The said channel’s strong reach should benefit the MPBL a lot as it tries to gain the respect of Filipino basketball diehards.

It will be interesting to see how far this upstart league go. But for those who are worried that the MPBL could pose a threat to the PBA, don’t fret because they are only concerned about giving players opportunities while extending the careers of others.

Games of the MPBL will take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. It will be aired on ABS-CBN’s S+A channel.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Pacquiao vs. Horn: A Different Feel

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn will have somewhat of a different feel for viewers.

For many years, Manny Pacquiao fights were among the most highly-anticipated events in the world. In the United States, Pacquiao fights equal to millions of pay-per-view buys, and in the Philippines, it amounts to thousands of packed venues and a lighter-than-usual traffic.

But after the lukewarm reception of Pacquiao’s previous fight with Jesse Vargas, it is clear that interest in his fights are waning. After all, Pacquiao is closing in on 40 years of age and it seems that his best days as a power-punching weapon were now behind them.

Which is why in the United States, pay-per-view is no longer an option in the Pacquiao-Horn fight. Realizing the decline of interest in his fights, promoter Top Rank announced that the aforementioned bout will air on a basic cable channel in ESPN, hoping that a switch to a more readily available medium will rekindle interest in him.

Over in the Philippines, the Pacquiao-Horn fight will still be aired live on pay-per-view. ABS-CBN will hold exclusive pay-per-view rights to Pacquiao vs. Horn after signing an agreement with manager Arnold Vegafria last June 9, which also includes video-on-demand, internet and mobile broadcasts.

Due to ABS-CBN’s exclusivity, rival cable and satellite companies have no choice but to agree to the broadcast giant with regards to the carriage of the fight. This includes Cignal TV, a main rival of ABS-CBN affiliate SkyCable.

Meanwhile, GMA will have the rights to free TV and radio coverage of Pacquiao vs. Horn, after signing its own deal with Vegafria the following week. But like many Pacquiao fights aired on the network, the bout with Horn will be seen on a delayed basis, with plenty of commercial placement to boot.

As for long-time Pacquiao rightsholder Solar Sports, they will still air his fight with Horn on a delayed basis as well. However, Solar Entertainment will no longer play a key role in distributing the event on pay-per-view after ABS-CBN’s acquisition of rights.

While the Pacquiao-Horn fight will not be as highly anticipated as previous Pacquiao bouts, viewers can still expect a very entertaining contest. Father Time may be catching up to Pacquiao, but the ‘fighting senator’ should still be at his very best come fight time.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn, the Battle of Brisbane, will take place this Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. It will be held live at the Suncorp Stadium.

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