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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live events, Philippines, Sports, television

Another Five Years for the UAAP on ABS-CBN Sports

Record crowds like last October’s NU-FEU UAAP men’s basketball title match were a key reason why the UAAP and ABS-CBN Sports decided to renew their existing broadcast deal. (Photo credit: ABS-CBNNews.com)

Signed, sealed, and delivered.

As expected, the UAAP decided to renew its existing broadcast rights deal with ABS-CBN Sports for another five years. The extended contract will begin starting Season 78 (2015-16) and will last through Season 82 (2019-20).

This will ensure that the partnership between the UAAP and ABS-CBN will reach its 20th year once it wraps up its newest contract, making it the longest tenured broadcast deal among the current sports leagues in the country.

The latest contract extension was not without any obstacles, however. Back in February, TV5’s sports division (Sports5) submitted a letter of intent to the UAAP board with regards to the league’s television broadcasts.

Sports5 would have been a great partner for the UAAP. Unfortunately, their poor handling of the NCAA broadcasts, not to mention the lack of extensive promotion and coverage in sports other than basketball, proved to be a hindrance that is too much to overcome.

The decision to renew the existing contract was based on the league’s recent spike in popularity. Leading the way are men’s basketball and women’s volleyball, which continues to be the focus of attention in ABS-CBN’s coverage.

True to form, both disciplines attracted record crowds during the past few years, especially during the championship series. In fact, in the last three title deciders in either men’s basketball or women’s volleyball, over 20,000 spectators packed both the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the Mall of Asia Arena.

Even more impressive was the fact that ABS-CBN Sports began to show weekly live coverage of men’s football and men’s volleyball via Balls HD 167, with the said sports continuing to air on tape-delay via ABS-CBN Sports+Action. As the new contract gets underway, expect an even more extensive coverage of other UAAP sports, in various platforms.

That said, the renewal of broadcast rights between the UAAP and ABS-CBN Sports should only further the league’s increasing popularity. The UAAP may now be more popular than ever before, but without the help of ABS-CBN Sports, it may have never achieved the blockbuster success that it has enjoyed today.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

A Lesson Learned: The Success of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition

Defending champions in both the Cheerdance and Group Stunts competitions, the NU Cheering Squad will try to do one better this Sunday in the 2014 UAAP Cheerdance Competition. (Photo credit: GMA Network)

On Sunday, cheering squads of the eight UAAP schools will once again take center stage.

The UAAP Cheerdance Competition, now on its 20th edition, will take place inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum on September 14. The can’t miss event of the UAAP season besides men’s basketball and women’s volleyball, the Cheerdance Competition has been steadily growing in popularity since ABS-CBN Sports took over league broadcast rights in Season 63 (2000-01).

While it does not have any effect on the overall championship tally, fans, students and alumni will nevertheless enjoy every moment of the cheering squads’ execution of stunts, leaps, tumbles and special themes, not to mention the loud cheers and the banging drums. The unpredictable nature of the event makes for some compelling television.

So it was not a surprise to see why the recent editions of the Cheerdance Competition became social media hits. ABS-CBN Sports has done a very good job in hyping the event in advance, and the fans, whether they are watching in person, on ABS-CBN Sports+Action, on Balls HD 167, or on UAAP’s livestream website, were invested into the network’s early bird promotion.

This was in contrast to the recent NCAA Cheerleading Competition that was held at the Mall of Asia Arena last March. Poor attendance, poor viewership, lack of sponsors, and poor hype were the reasons why no one paid attention to NCAA’s own version. And TV5, the league’s coveror, paid dearly for it.

If there’s a league that can make cheerdancing a popular spectacle even for just one day, it’s the UAAP. The Cheerdance Competition is the time of the year where the cheering squads of the eight member schools try to one-up each other by performing routines that are difficult, impressive and creatively planned to near-perfection. And the fans buy into each performance.

This year’s competition will be no different, as defending champion NU Cheering Squad and the seven others will try to improve on last year’s routines. The UAAP Cheerdance Competition is expected to be another 20k-attended event, and millions will surely talk about it on social media before, during, and after the event.

One final note: For those in search of some eye candy, pay attention to Boom Gonzales’ dazzling co-host for Sunday afternoon, as well as the season’s courtside reporters in their respective schools’ gear. The Cheerdance Competition will not be complete without them.

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live events, Philippines, Sports, television

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is on ABS-CBN Sports

This June 12, football enthusiasts will once again converge as the 2014 FIFA World Cup takes place in Brazil. The month-long tournament will feature 32 nations playing in 12 different cities, 16 of which will survive to play in the knockout rounds, a four-tiered stage that will determine the winner of the FIFA World Cup Trophy.

The Philippine broadcast rights for this year’s World Cup will be held by ABS-CBN Sports. Balls Channel (SkyCable Channel 34, Destiny Cable Channel 36) will show most live games, with several others airing on a delayed basis. The complete schedule can be seen below.

Schedules for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on the Balls Channel.

For football enthusiasts without cable subscription, ABS-CBN Sports+Action will show some of the games, both live and on a delayed basis. The list of the preliminary round matches on the network can be clicked on this link.

In addition, SkyCable will provide a season pass for every live World Cup game in high definition. The season pass costs P1999, and is only available to subscribers with an HD digibox.

The FIFA World Cup attracts millions of viewers from around the world, and this year’s edition is no exception. And while 2010 winner Spain and host nation Brazil will be among the favorites to win the Cup, this tournament is also expected to feature some surprising victories along the way, one that will see less favored nations make an upset or two that would captivate and shock football fans.

This year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil should be exciting to watch. And football fans can’t wait.

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Philippines, Sports, television

What Happened to Solar Sports?

In its heyday, Solar Sports aired several top-notch sports events familiar to Filipinos. Before Basketball TV and Balls came into the picture, Solar Sports was the major broadcaster of the NBA and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It also aired the WWE, major tennis tournaments, the La Liga and Bundesliga soccer matches, the NFL, and NASCAR racing. Now, what happened?

Looking at the entire repertoire of Solar Sports, it seems that they have eschewed airing the big events in favor of sports not familiar to Filipinos. While they still provide decently good sporting events like boxing, billiards and the PGA, ATP and WTA tours, Solar Sports now airs BWF badminton, FLW fishing, and Copa Libertadores soccer matches. Locally the network became the official coveror of Philippine Super Liga volleyball. And they also cover cockfighting and Jai Alai.

Having said that, Solar Sports has become a shell of its former self. While the loss of the NBA to BTV only gave basketball-crazy fans a favor, it is unacceptable to lose the UFC to ABS-CBN Sports, La Liga and Bundesliga to BeIN Sport, and the WWE to Fox Asia. And what were the replacements? Gambling-related sports, fishing, and badminton. This is not what Solar Sports used to air.

If Solar Sports can somehow bring its past glory back, they should start by acquiring more respectably familiar sports like college football and Major League Baseball. Cockfighting and Jai Alai have no place to this channel and should be left alone for a future gambling sports channel. And finally, Solar Sports should change its logo and readopt the ‘Sports Plus’ identity of several years ago.

What used to be ‘Our Sports Channel’ is now a distant memory. Solar Sports needs a change, and it should start soon.

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Uncategorized

Premier League Out of Balls; BeIN Sport Launches

This past August, ABS-CBN‘s Balls Channel announced the airing of Premier League matches on the network, giving loyal soccer fans an opportunity to watch the most popular soccer league in the world. However, with BeIN Sport finally making its long-awaited debut in the Philippines last October 15, ABS-CBN had no choice but to relinquish the airing of Premier League matches on the Balls Channel starting November 1.

BeIN Sport first acquired the rights for the Premier League during the offseason. Previous broadcasters Fox Sports Asia (formerly ESPN Asia) and STAR Sports aired the Premier League for several years, but mounting broadcast rights expenses forced the networks to step aside, and replace them with the lesser-known Dutch Eredivisie. Despite the announcement, BeIN Sport did not reach cable subscribers in time for the start of the Premier League, forcing ABS-CBN to step in on a temporary basis.

After a successful launch in Indonesia last July, MP & Silva finally launched BeIN Sport in the Philippines last October 15. BeIN Sport will have three channels on the HD dial, one of which will be devoted exclusively to the Premier League. Unfortunately, the channels will only be available on HD, thus loyal and fierce soccer fans will have to shell out more money in order to install a high-definition digibox.

The all-Premier League channel BeIN Sport 3 HD is available on Channel 206, while sister network BeIN Sport 2 HD is available on Channel 205, both through SkyCable. Meanwhile, Balls Channel will continue to air the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, with the purpose of quenching the thirst of devoted soccer fans craving for some non-stop soccer action.

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