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Philippine Cable and Digital Channels Face Issue of Redundancy

Hero is one of several cable channels in the Philippines that was shut down this year due to redundancy in content. (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

Redundancy has become a common theme for cable and digital channels in the Philippines.

In the first half of 2018 alone, viewers witnessed a closure of numerous cable channels in the country. On the local side of the spectrum, there was Hero, TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel, CT and 2nd Avenue, and on the international front there was Toonami.

There were also some rebrandings and resurrections of several channels as well. CPI made LIGA the second coming of Balls in time for the FIFA World Cup (replacing ARC, TAG and Hero in the process) while rebranding Lifestyle into Metro Channel, and then the MVP Group converted Bloomberg Philippines into One News.

So why do these things happen to our beloved cable and digital channels? The most cited reason is financial constraints, but it goes deeper than that.

When two channels air similar content with one another, redundancy happens. This is exactly the case that befell the likes of Hero, TAG, CT, 2nd Avenue and Toonami because they feature similar themes and genres with one or several channels.

Hero and Toonami, for example, became victims of cord-cutters and other channels such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, AniPlus, Animax and even Yey!, which show some anime and action series as well. Same with CT and 2nd Avenue who share some of the programming with sister channels Jack TV and ETC.

Going further back, CPI shut down Velvet in 2014 and moved some of its content over to Lifestyle. Four years later, Lifestyle was rebranded into Metro Channel and is now essentially a second coming of Velvet.

There is also LIGA, which was launched for the FIFA World Cup but is expected to face similar redundancy issues as Balls since its only other source of content are events that air on ABS-CBN S+A. Finally, the rebrand from Bloomberg Philippines to One News has made AksyonTV (a former news channel-turned-T5N clone) redundant, something the MVP Group must address moving forward.

However, redundancy is not limited to cable channels alone. Yey!, for example, has a movie block called ‘Kid Sine’, but some of the films shown here are also aired on sister channel CineMo (under the CineFantasya and CineKomedya blocks).

Yey! also airs reruns of ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids’ while CineMo rebroadcasts ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Bagani’ on weekends. Such reruns should have been exclusive to Jeepney TV.

These are just some of the examples that face cable and digital channels today. Considering the competitive nature of this business, trying to stay unique and distinct in terms of content is not as easy as it looks.

So the best that these channels can do right now is to remain innovative and wide-eyed to the audience while keeping themselves afloat. This juggling act may be difficult, but when done properly, they can stay on the air for a long period of time.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Liga Is the New Balls

CPI has a new cable channel in LIGA, which will eventually serve as the main home of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

ABS-CBN’s Creative Programs Inc. has a new cable channel anew.

Following the closure of TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel and Hero, CPI went back to work and quietly established a new sports-oriented cable channel called LIGA. The channel’s content will eventually be focused on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but for the time being, it airs live and classic UAAP men’s basketball and women’s volleyball matches as well as the World Cup qualifiers.

LIGA is served to complement S+A, ABS-CBN’s free TV channel dedicated to sports. While ABS-CBN Sports is the current rightsholder for the World Cup, its main channel S+A may not be enough to shoulder the burden due to its other sports commitments both internationally and locally.

Thus an alternate channel was needed to pick up the slack. Enter LIGA, which is currently on test broadcast with an official launch soon to be announced.

This is not the first time that CPI decided to establish its own sports channel. During the ensuing controversy surrounding SkyCable and Solar Entertainment in 2008 regarding carriage of the latter’s channels, CPI appeased to the demands of some sports fans with the launch of Balls, which lasted seven years before CPI ended its broadcasts in favor of S+A.

But unlike Balls which catered more to the upper echelon of society, LIGA will be more mass-oriented in nature. This despite the fact that it will contain many of the events that Balls used to air.

Now that LIGA is about to be unleashed, one can only hope that this channel will benefit sports fans in more ways than one. Not only that, as the home of the World Cup this June, football fans will be more excited than ever to see their football heroes strut their stuff in the world’s biggest stage.

Good luck.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Free Football: S+A Adds Premier League, La Liga, UEFA Champions League

ABS-CBN’s S+A and Triple CH joined forces to bring the Premier League, La Liga and UEFA Champions League to Filipino audiences. (Photo credit: PinoyFootball.com)

More football indeed.

ABS-CBN’s S+A reinforced its football catalog by adding three of the world’s best-known football tournaments. In a landmark partnership with Hong Kong-based Triple CH, select games of England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Europe’s UEFA Champions League will air live on S+A.

ABS-CBN Integrated Sports head Dino Laurena is more than excited to bring top-flight football to Philippine shores.

“Bringing these premier football leagues to free TV is part of our commitment to bring the best sports content to Filipinos. We hope that Filipinos will be more inspired to not just watch but also play the sport, as they get to see the football greats such as Ronaldo and Messi in action.”

“The time has come to let the excitement and the bigness of the game of football that has taken the world like a giant tsunami to come to the shores of the Philippines.”

Triple CH chairman Bernard Sumayao is hopeful that the partnership will bring in greater opportunities to propagate the sport of football in the Philippines.

“It’s a stepping stone for bigger things that we want to do. We brought these matches here because we want to increase the awareness and involvement of Filipinos in football. We want to see the level of football in the Philippines to go higher, to make them a powerhouse in football in the future, especially in Southeast Asia. Our partnership with ABS-CBN is crucial because they will be our distributor for all of the programs and projects we want to do.”

“We are prepared to make certain commitments to assist everything from the grassroots level all the way to the national team level.”

Sorrakit Lathitham, the managing director of Demeter Corporation, is likewise positive that the burgeoning partnership will help grow football’s popularity in the country.

“We believe that the Philippines is a growing market and a very healthy market for sports. We trust the goals and vision of Triple CH and we wish this partnership to grow and strengthen in the days to come.”

Airing the likes of the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League are nothing new for S+A. Back when the network was still named Balls*, the channel aired select games of the two leagues for a brief period of time.

In fact, it was Balls who first swooped in on the Premier League following the change of rightsholder from Fox Sports Asia to beIN Sport in 2013. However, ABS-CBN Sports was forced to give up the broadcasts once beIN Sport became available to Filipino cable and satellite subscribers.

But now that S+A reclaimed the rights to the two leagues alongside La Liga (not to mention greater availability through free TV), they can only hope that the love affair of football aficionados will endure for a longer period of time. It will be great to see some of football’s top stars grace the Filipino small screen in the years to come.

Live games of the Premier League, La Liga and UEFA Champions League on S+A will commence this December. The initial schedule of games can be seen below.

*Note: Studio 23 was renamed S+A SD in 2014, and Balls was renamed S+A HD in 2015. ABS-CBN merged the two networks’ programming in April 2017.

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FTT’s Opening Salvo for 2016

It will be a very busy 2016 for media networks in the Philippines.

This year is an election year, and this one will decide the fate of the presidency of the Philippines. ABS-CBN, TV5 and GMA, along with several minor players, will be on hand to cover the five-month period of conviction and decision, leading to the national elections on May 9, and finally to the inauguration on June 30.

The question is, will CNN Philippines, GMA News TV and AksyonTV be busy enough for the grind of the elections? The three news networks have had a rough outing last year, with only ANC and DZMM TeleRadyo continuing to showcase their usual journalistic excellence, and unless they prove the critics wrong on election day, they will endure yet another showering of boos.

On the entertainment side, this is where GMA needs to make a statement (yet again). Even though ‘Eat Bulaga’ and AlDub grabbed the headlines during the second half of 2015, the rest of GMA’s programming, talents and staff still leave a lot to be desired, and if GMA were to be competitive and financially strong, they need more than just AlDub to survive.

Over at TV5, they are making a fresh start with a new ally. Viva Entertainment head Vic del Rosario is now leading the network’s entertainment unit, and he hopes to make an impact with new shows that could reenergize the Kapatid network’s stagnant and unpredictable programming.

As for ABS-CBN, there’s no need for a forecast. Barring any possibility of overconfidence and complacency, this should be another successful year for the Kapamilya network, with new shows featuring both established and rising stars on the menu.

Sports programming suffered a big blow when ABS-CBN-operated Balls signed off for good last year. That said, there will be big shoes to fill for the remaining sports networks in the country, particularly TV5’s Hyper and ABS-CBN Sports+Action, as they scramble for rights to some of the events that Balls covered.

FM’s 90.7 Love Radio remained dominant last year, as are DZMM and DZBB on the AM band. Closing in on the top radio stations will once again be a very tough act for the rest of the field this year, especially with the possibility of a rebrand and a change in personnel looming for those who couldn’t keep up.

And finally, as always, the endless questions of IBC-13’s planned privatization (or closure) will continue to surface this year. The question of when, who and how will once again permeate curious viewers, as the fate of the embattled station remains a mystery even with the change of administration.

This should be an interesting year ahead, and From the Tube will be there to cover every step of the way. Good luck.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Balls Bids Farewell, Plus UFC Moves to Sports5

Balls will air for the final time on December 31, 2015, and most sporting content will be transferred to the free-to-air ABS-CBN Sports+Action the following day. (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs, Inc./ABS-CBN)

Balls’ days are numbered.

SkyCable announced that Balls will cease to air after December 31, 2015, ending a seven-year run. The permanent sign-off of Balls will involve both its standard definition (channel 34) and high definition (channel 195) feeds.

 

Most sports programming on Balls will be moved to the free-to-air ABS-CBN Sports+Action starting next year. An HD counterpart of the latter network will also be launched.

Debuting on January 1, 2008, Balls became the home to some of the world’s top sporting events, ranging from UEFA and FIFA soccer competitions to FIVB tournaments. It also aired both the French Open and U.S. Open tennis, as well as European Tour and Asian Tour golf.

Balls made history on July 16, 2009 when it launched Balls HD, the first-ever Filipino HD television channel. The channel aired both the UAAP and NCAA tournaments, as well as a select few international tournaments.

But perhaps Balls’ biggest claim to fame was the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The premier mixed martial arts organization began airing on Balls in 2009, and the latter was credited with popularizing the UFC in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, with Balls about to leave the airwaves, it is clear that ABS-CBN Sports has no intention of keeping the UFC rights. As a result, the broadcast rights of UFC will be moved to Sports5 starting next year.

Sports5’s plan is to air the UFC live on the Cignal-exclusive Hyper channel, with delayed broadcasts on TV5. However, it remains to be seen if fight fans will respond well to the change, considering that Hyper is still a work in progress and is not as well-known as its competitors.

That said, it’s up to Sports5 to reinforce Hyper with more well-known sporting events. The UFC may be a good way to start, but it’s not enough to put them on top just yet.

As for ABS-CBN Sports, the time to sort out the mess is now. With Balls going off the air, ABS-CBN Sports+Action has a bigger dilemma ahead of them.

 

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live events, Philippines, Sports, television

A Short Overview of UAAP Season 78

UAAP Season 78 opens this weekend with the opening ceremonies and four men’s basketball games in two venues featuring all eight schools. (Photo credit: PhilStar.com)

A new era in the UAAP gets underway.

UAAP Season 78 begins tomorrow afternoon with the customary opening ceremonies at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, followed by the UP-UE and Adamson-UST men’s basketball matchups. It will be followed by another doubleheader this Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena, featuring the La Salle-NU and Ateneo-FEU matchups.

This will be the 16th season of UAAP coverage on the ABS-CBN family of networks*, and the first in the new September-May calendar. After signing another five-year deal, ABS-CBN Sports expects an even wider multi-platform coverage of UAAP events, as they continue to capitalize on its rising popularity.

For more information on the participating schools, courtside reporters and announcers, visit the official ABS-CBN Sports website by clicking this link, and also visit their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

(*) Games will be aired on ABS-CBN Sports+Action, Balls HD 167, Balls SD 34, iWanTV, and ABS-CBN Mobile. Finals of the men’s basketball and women’s volleyball events are expected to air on ABS-CBN Channel 2 on a weekend.

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