Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Despite Airing March Madness, US NCAA Remains Out of BTV’s Equation

Creighton star Kobe Paras may be making his presence felt in the U.S. NCAA, but the league's lack of popularity in his home country continues to be a problem. (Photo credit: Fox Sports Asia)

Creighton star Kobe Paras may be making waves in the U.S. NCAA, but the league’s lack of popularity in his home country continues to be a problem. (Photo credit: Fox Sports Asia)

It is obvious that U.S. college basketball will never get the respect it deserves from Filipino hoop fans.

Such is the case for the U.S. NCAA men’s basketball tournament. While top conference tournaments such as the ACC, PAC-12 and the Big 12 air regularly on the FOX Sports family of networks and Sports Illustrated Asia, one network in the Philippines is noticeably absent.

The network in question is Solar Entertainment’s Basketball TV, who back in April aired the U.S. NCAA Final Four and Championship games alongside Solar Sports. Unfortunately, the network’s emphasis on the more popular NBA once again put into question their commitment to air next year’s March Madness, let alone the entire U.S. NCAA season.

The last time BTV actually aired regular season U.S. NCAA basketball games was back in the 2012-13 season. This was also the last time the network aired March Madness prior to last April.

The history between the U.S. NCAA and Basketball TV date back to the fledgling network’s first season in 2006-07. Back then, the network was home to several popular conference tournaments, and they also aired a select number of March Madness games as well.

Unfortunately, U.S. college basketball failed to make an imprint in the consciousness of Filipino hoop fans. Unlike the UAAP or the Filipino NCAA where its rules are based on FIBA’s template (hence a faster style of play), the U.S. NCAA employs a unique set of rules such as 20-minute halves, 30 or 35-second shot clocks, and one-and-one free throw situations.

It also did not help that U.S. college basketball players are essentially obscure names. The fact is, for Filipino hoop fans, they will only gain popularity if they were drafted in the NBA and play well there.

That said, BTV’s decision to drop the U.S. NCAA coverage back in the 2013-14 season was the right choice considering its lack of popularity here. While it did manage to air the Final Four in April, it was done out of necessity since no other network was committed enough to air.

Although Creighton’s Kobe Paras is trying to lift the profile of U.S. NCAA basketball in the Philippines, one thing is clear. U.S. NCAA hoops will never become as popular as the NBA here, and that’s a painful fact.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

March Madness: Solar’s Loss is TV5’s Gain

Top-ranked pro prospect Andrew Wiggins and other college basketball stars will be in the spotlight as the US NCAA March Madness will air on TV5 and its affiliates.

This March, the US NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, more popularly known as ‘March Madness’, will be shown in the Philippines via the networks of TV5. The Kapatid network’s acquisition of March Madness gives the event some much-needed exposure on free TV, something that its previous coveror could not afford. But how did TV5 earn their ticket to ‘March Madness’?

For several years, coverage of March Madness was given to Solar Sports via its all-basketball channel Basketball TV. In addition to the NCAA tournament, the network also aired select regular season and postseason games from popular conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, and the Pacific-10 (later Pacific-12) Conference. However, when BTV did not air any US NCAA college games this year, the March Madness coverage in the country was put into question.

Looking back, there were some shortcomings to BTV’s coverage of March Madness, and of US NCAA basketball in general. Because the network’s primary focus is on the NBA, coverage of regular season college basketball was restricted to tape-delay broadcasts, unlike in Fox Sports Philippines (formerly ESPN) where it can air the games live. Then come March Madness, BTV would be forced to tape-delay NBA games and air a minimum of one game per round, alienating some rabid NBA fans and even college basketball viewers.

With mounting pressure from its viewers, Solar and Basketball TV had no choice but to finally drop the US NCAA college basketball from its lineup. It wasn’t until late February that Sports5 decided to step up, announcing that it has acquired the rights for the US NCAA March Madness. Its announcement came just as the 2014 Winter Olympics on the Kapatid network was about to finish.

Sports5’s coverage of the US NCAA March Madness include free TV broadcasts of select games on TV5 and AksyonTV 41, complementary live broadcasts on cable network Hyper and Cignal HD pay-per-view, and live streaming though PLDT’s broadband services. This means that more games will be offered in each platform, giving college basketball fans additional options to watch their favorite US NCAA schools run towards the championship.

Now that TV5 and its affiliates will have the rights to the US NCAA March Madness, the countdown to the most highly-anticipated college basketball tournament in the world is underway. And college basketball fans can’t wait to watch.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Will March Madness Be Aired on BTV?

So far, Basketball TV has not aired any U.S. NCAA college basketball game this year. As a result, the upcoming broadcast of March Madness on that station remains uncertain.

It’s already the fourth month of the college basketball season in the United States, and yet Basketball TV in the Philippines has not aired any game of the U.S. NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball conference tournaments. Now the question is: Will March Madness be aired on BTV?

In previous years, BTV aired select games of the U.S. NCAA conference tournaments, mostly coming from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). BTV also aired select games of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, including all of the Elite Eight, Final Four and the Championship rounds, as part of ‘March Madness on BTV’. Its commitment to the NCAA attracted some NBA fans who looked forward to watch some of the most hyped NBA prospects in action.

However, contrary to the inclusion of the Louisville Cardinals’ championship victory on its station ID, BTV has not been able to broadcast any U.S. NCAA game this year. A lot of basketball fans were looking forward to watch future stars such as Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker play, and BTV is surely expected to give college basketball fans what they want to see. Unfortunately, that was not the case this year.

If Basketball TV decides not to pursue anymore its broadcast of March Madness, let alone the entire NCAA college basketball season, it will be a huge loss to the network. They already lost the rights to the Spanish Liga ACB this year, leaving them with only the NBA, Euroleague, NBA D-League, FIBA Basketball and local tournaments such as the SBP-Passerelle as their primary outlets. Losing the US NCAA will definitely be demoralizing, and more importantly, college basketball fans will not be happy about it.

It remains to be seen if March Madness will be picked up on another network. For now, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and other future NBA stars will not have any airtime on any station in the Philippines this year.

UPDATE: Sports5 executive and Gilas head coach Chot Reyes tweeted today that March Madness or the US NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will be seen on TV5 this March. The coverage will likely involve sister stations AksyonTV and HYPER. More information on this event coming soon. As for Basketball TV, they should start editing their station ID now that March Madness is out of the network.

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