Philippines, Sports, television

Premier League is Now on Balls

ABS-CBN’s Balls Channel will carry the Philippine broadcast of the Premier League for the 2013-14 season and beyond.

The start of August shocked many Filipino soccer fans when Fox Sports Asia and Star Sports decided to relinquish their broadcast rights for the Premier League in favor of BeIN Sport. However, some good news was finally relayed to by none other than ABS-CBN Sports.

In a simple tweet, the Balls Channel announced that they will be carrying the broadcast of the Premier League for the 2013-14 season and beyond. This is a welcome development for Filipino soccer fans, who waited with bated breath as to which network will carry the most popular soccer league in the world.

Balls will carry at least two to four games per week throughout the season, some of which will feature top clubs like defending champion Manchester United, contenders Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, and newly promoted clubs Hull City, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City. In addition to live games, a highlight and preview show will also be aired.

The Premier League is not the only soccer event covered by Balls. They will continue to air the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, and FIFA-sanctioned competitions throughout the 2013-14 season, culminating in the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup.

As a member of the Lopez Group umbrella, Balls Channel is exclusive only through SkyCable and Destiny Cable, which means Cignal and Dream subscribers won’t have an opportunity to watch the Premier League. Nevertheless, Filipino soccer fans should expect a lot of goals, spectacular saves, and end-to-end action as the Premier League season begins on the Balls Channel, available on Channel 34 (SkyCable) and Channel 36 (Destiny) in standard definition.

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Philippines, Sports

No More Premier League on Fox Sports and Star Sports

Fox Sports and Star Sports bow out of Premier League coverage beginning in the 2013-14 season. BeIN Sport will take over the Philippine broadcast for this season and beyond.

Many soccer fans are expecting a new Premier League season. After all, Manchester United is defending its title without the legendary Alex Ferguson, while new clubs in Hull City, Cardiff City and Crystal Palace are threatening to make an impact in England‘s top division. In addition, other top Premier League clubs in Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool hope to give Manchester United a run for their money. With that in mind, a new season of the Premier League gives clubs an opportunity to forget last year and improve on their placings, in hopes of surviving relegation and even compete in either the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League. However, Southeast Asian soccer fans will have a new broadcast partner this year.

After several years as broadcast partner, Fox Sports Asia (formerly ESPN) and Star Sports decided to bow out of Premier League coverage for this year and beyond. Instead the Dutch league known as Eredivisie will replace the Premier League on the said networks. It was then announced that MP & Silva, through its broadcast partner BeIN Sport, will acquire the Premier League broadcast rights in the Philippines for this season until the 2015-16 season, with 33 matches aired per season. Additional coverage will also be provided through digital media and other mobile platforms.

Fox Sports and Star Sports’ loss of the Premier League was unexpected. After all, the two networks have comprehensively covered the Premier League for many years and gave soccer fans an opportunity to connect with some of the league’s most popular clubs. However, a majority of the Philippine population were not soccer fans, and despite the emergence of the Philippine Azkals, soccer still lags behind boxing and basketball in terms of popularity. Worse, Premier League broadcast rights are expensive, and with mounting operational costs they cannot afford to carry more coverage. Thus they have to give up on the Premier League, instead replacing it with some unknown Dutch soccer stuff when in fact they should have taken either the German Bundesliga, the French Ligue 1 or the Italian Serie A to appease the appetite of soccer fans.

While BeIN Sport has acquired the rights to air the Premier League in the Philippines, the announcement of which channel and cable network will BeIN Sport be available remains to be seen. For now, many soccer fans craving for the Premier League will have to depend on online live streaming to appease their hunger for soccer action. The Premier League begins tomorrow, but without any television coverage in the Philippines to begin with.

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