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ABS-CBN Continues Transition to HD

ABS-CBN officially launched its new HD channel last Saturday, part of a continuing transition to digital high definition television for the network. (Logo courtesy of ABS-CBN)

ABS-CBN’s conversion to high definition continues.

On Saturday, the network officially launched ABS-CBN HD, the first-ever HD free TV channel in the Philippines. It is currently available on Channel 167 for SkyCable and Destiny Cable subscribers, and Channel 700 for provincial subscribers.

Viewers with a high-definition digibox can enjoy some of ABS-CBN’s most popular programs in crystal clear HD. As of this article, only ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’, ‘Wansapanatym’, ‘Ipaglaban Mo’, ‘ASAP’ and Kapamilya Gold and Primetime Bida teleseryes are currently shot with HD cameras, with other programming to follow suit.

ABS-CBN began to experiment with high definition television when it launched Balls HD in 2009. The channel’s launch coincided with the opening of UAAP Season 72, which became the first local event to be broadcast in high definition.

Two years later, ‘Budoy’ became the network’s first teleserye to be shot with HD cameras, which was then followed by the network’s other dramas. And just two weeks ago, ‘ASAP’ became the first non-drama program on the network to be shot with HD cameras.

All in all, ABS-CBN’s forays with high-definition and other technologies were signs that the network is seriously preparing for the conversion to digital television here in the Philippines. Not bad for the pioneering television network which was established in 1953.

With the launch of ABS-CBN HD, let’s just hope that in the near future, the other networks will follow suit. This will not be an easy task for the other local networks, but with digitization fast approaching, time is definitely of the essence.

Note: Balls HD, which formerly occupied Channel 167, is now assigned to Channel 195 for SkyCable and Destiny Cable subscribers, and Channel 701 for provincial subscribers. ABS-CBN HD can also be seen on iWanTV.

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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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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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