entertainment, Latin America, Philippines, Sports

Rio Olympics on TV5: A Review

TV5’s coverage of the Rio Olympics was not a good one, as their free TV outlets failed to commit themselves to full-blown coverage. (Logos courtesy of the MVP Group and the International Olympic Committee)

The Olympic season has come to an end.

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics officially concluded yesterday with a colorful closing ceremony, followed by the turn-over of hosting rights to Tokyo, Japan. The close of the event capped off two weeks of unforgettable moments and problematic issues that tested Rio’s resolve and courage.

This year’s broadcast of the Rio Olympics was solely handled by TV5, and much like the games itself, it endured a lot of difficulties. Many expected TV5 to fill in most of their hours with Olympic coverage, yet they failed to do so.

Much of the blame is centered around their continued airing of TV shopping blocks, Tagalized movies and other entertainment programming during the two-week Olympic period (this does not include the PBA Governors’ Cup). TV5 should have preempted them just for the Olympics, but it never happened despite their best efforts.

Even sister station AksyonTV had its own share of issues, but to a lesser extent. While the Olympics were ongoing, they still showed the Philippine Super Liga finals, the PBA D-League playoffs, and the opening of the CESAFI basketball tournament, all of which were the network’s priorities.

However, during vacant hours, AksyonTV still showed a TV shopping block, ‘Relasyon’ and ‘Wanted sa Radyo’. They should have preempted them for Olympic highlights.

One thing in common about TV5’s free TV Olympic coverage was their inability to re-air events that were aired live in the wee hours of the morning. Rio’s time is similar to that of New York, and TV5’s failure to take account of the time difference and the lack of TV audience during that period proved to be their doom.

There were some positives in the network’s Olympic coverage, however. TV5, along with sister companies Cignal, PLDT and Smart, collaborated for a multi-platform broadcast that involved satellite and internet subscription.

Despite that, the free TV coverage of the Olympics remains important. Considering that not all people subscribe to Cignal, PLDT and Smart, TV5 should have prioritized their free TV platforms to benefit their competitors.

Overall, it was an F grade for TV5’s Olympic coverage this year. Their coverage was doomed from the start, and their poor planning effort was not what the viewers wanted to see from the so-called ‘Olympic Network’.

So where will the Olympic coverage in the Philippines go from here? The lack of suitable options will be biggest issue for the Philippine Olympic Committee, since a variety of issues hound all of the country’s free TV networks.

Regardless, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics is still four years away. That said, the POC will need to think about their options very well, and for the networks, good luck in trying to snatch the rights to the 2020 Games.

As for TV5, it was an opportunity that blew right before their very eyes. Now they should look forward for the long-awaited rebuilding process, one that should put them back on track.

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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

News5 Needs a Revamp (Part II)

The problems surrounding TV5 has also spread to the news department.

In Part I, FTT discussed the various dilemmas that surrounded News5 in recent months. These problems range from questionable personnel decisions and content criticisms to programming issues.

Now on Part II, we discuss what steps are needed to resuscitate News5 from its doldrums. These solutions may be risky for the division, but in the long term, it should help them regain their former glory.

With that, here are the following ways to fix News5:

Hire and Promote Younger Reporters

News5 really needs some young blood to shore things up. With that in mind, an aggressive recruiting plan is needed to acquire younger journalists (preferably fresh graduates from mass communications and journalism courses) who could help them in the long term.

Of course, it would be best to avoid the so-called ‘entertainers masquerading as journalists’ (EMAJ) at all costs. If so, demote them to reporting showbiz news.

In addition to that, they may need to promote some of their long-time reporters to anchor the ‘Aksyon’ newscasts on a regular or a temporary basis. Reporters like Maricel Halili, Renz Ongkiko, Maeanne Los Baños, France Noguera, Carla Lim and Trish Roque could get some airtime as anchors in the near future.

However, that will only be possible if News5 does something drastic to ‘Aksyon’. Which leads to this much-needed solution.

Reformat ‘Aksyon’ (save for ‘Aksyon Tonite’)

For the most part, ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’, ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ and ‘Aksyon Prime’ are similar to the newscasts of ABS-CBN and GMA: mostly sensationalized in nature. This is contrast to ‘Aksyon Tonite’, whose content is more on hard news.

Getting rid of the sensationalized reports and focusing more on hard news should be a priority for News5 in restructuring the ‘Aksyon’ brand. Of course, a personnel shuffle is needed as well; after all, no one wants to be the next Raffy Tulfo, who turned ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ into a ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ in newscast form.

Find someone equal to ‘Aksyon Tonite”s Ed Lingao and Cheryl Cosim, and a more reenergized ‘Aksyon’ newscasts are ready to go. But if TV5 wants to make their news available 24/7, they need to go to this route.

Establish an All-News Channel on Cignal

AksyonTV’s glory days are long gone. The former 24-hour all-Filipino news channel is now airing more sporting events than ever, and TV5 may need to give its sister channel a much-needed rebrand (preferably renaming it as the Sports5 Network or AKTV).

A news channel is still a necessity though. But instead of airing it on free TV like before, what TV5 needed now is a Cignal exclusive news channel, complete with the simulcasts of all Radyo5 programs, ‘Aksyon’ newscasts and public affairs shows from TV5 (don’t confuse it with Bloomberg TV Philippines, as it is strictly a business news channel).

In order to do that, however, more shows on Radyo5 and TV5 are needed. Which leads to:

Create More Shows on Radyo5 and TV5

Radyo5 92.3 News FM may be the only news-oriented FM station in the country, but its programming is still a far cry from that of AM radio counterparts DZBB and DZMM. With that in mind, the station needs to add more programs in addition to hiring new hosts.

The same can be said to TV5, whose only active public affairs shows are ‘Alagang Kapatid’ and ‘ReAksyon’. Adding new shows could take a while, however, since the network is busy managing the coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

These solutions should help News5 regain its former glory. But rebuilding is not easy, however, so all it needs is patience, perseverance and faith to get the job done.

News5 has a potential to be a great news organization. However, with all the problems they countered, it’s easy to see why they’re still lagging behind the others.

Hopefully they do this right as soon as possible. The fate of News5 is on the management’s hands.

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Philippines, satellite TV, Sports, television

With PBA Rush, League’s Future with TV5 Appears Secure

Cignal’s newest channel, PBA Rush, was launched July 17, at a time when the league’s future with parent network TV5 is in doubt. (Logo courtesy of the Philippine Basketball Association, Cignal Digital TV)

Looks like loyal followers of the PBA will have nothing to worry about as far as television coverage is concerned.

Yesterday, the league and Cignal joined forces to launch a 24-hour channel called PBA Rush. Available exclusively on Cignal SD channel 52 and HD channel 129, the channel will feature live PBA games, as well as special league-centric programming and classic games.

Prior to the official unveiling of PBA Rush, the channel had been airing in test broadcast since early July. During that period, it aired replays of the season’s two previous tournaments (Philippine Cup, Commissioner’s Cup), as well as the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament.

The decision to launch PBA Rush came at a not-so opportune time. The ongoing Governors’ Cup was to be the league’s last hurrah with TV5, and with the network enduring a lot of problems with its programming, it seems obvious that the PBA could be on its way out.

But where will the PBA go at this point? Here’s a look at how the other free TV channels stack up as far as the league is concerned (only VHF channels are listed here, as the PBA prefers to airs games on that platform only).

ABS-CBN – The Kapamilya network has expressed interest in airing the PBA games for a long time. However, what holds them back is their reluctance to air the games on primetime, the league’s long-standing decision to air games on VHF channels only, and the sports division’s loaded lineup.

PTV-4 – The PBA and the People’s Network are no stranger to each other, having been partners during the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. But with the network undergoing a rebuilding phase under PCOO secretary and former TV5 personality Martin Andanar, it is unlikely that a reunion will take place in the foreseeable future.

GMA/GMA News TV – Sporting events and GMA have been few and far between since the network switched from a rainbow logo to a rainbow-colored heart logo. And with the Kapuso network already in a spending binge thanks to the return of ‘Encantadia’, it is unlikely that GMA will pursue the PBA (and any other sporting event for that matter) anytime soon.

RPN-9/CNN Philippines – Before RPN-9 became the home of CNN Philippines, it used to air PBA games in the 1970s and more recently in the late 2000s. However, since CNN has content rights to the local version of the channel, there is no way that a reunion with the PBA will happen as long as they’re here.

IBC-13 – The PBA and IBC has had three different stints under three different partners: Vintage/VIVA TV, PTV-4 and Sports5. But with the embattled network currently up for sale, any further return is not in the cards for now.

That said, it is a safe bet that the PBA and TV5 will renew their contract soon after the conclusion of the Governors’ Cup. Then again, any contract renewal may no longer be a possibility, since the launch of PBA Rush essentially extended PBA’s relationship with TV5 for the foreseeable amount of time.

Still, it remains to be seen if the launch of PBA Rush will pay dividends. But let’s just hope that the channel will not pose a threat to Manny V. Pangilinan’s pocket.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Sports5’s Doubtful and Desperate Future

The ‘Road to Rio’ will be a bumpy one, as TV5 essentially sacrificed its entire programming lineup just for the coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics. This year’s Olympics could decide the future of Sports5 as well. (Photo credit: PhilStar.com)

These are indeed desperate times for TV5.

It has been over a month since the Kapatid network ‘demolished’ (for the lack of a better term) almost its entire programming lineup in favor of unlimited ‘foreignoy’ movies and home shopping blocks. And while their decision may seem ridiculous, they were essentially preparing this demolition job for one particular event.

Enter the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Summer Olympics in Rio will be the fourth such event for TV5, following the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing. As early as now, TV5 is going all out, because as far as they were concerned, this could be their last chance to prove their worth as a force in Philippine sports.

Anyone who has followed TV5 over the years know how much a sports fan Manny V. Pangilinan is. The businessman is best known in the sports world as:

  • owner of three PBA teams (Tropang TNT, Meralco Bolts, NLEX Road Warriors)
  • bankroller of two collegiate teams (Ateneo Blue Eagles, San Beda Red Lions)
  • one-time president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas
  • benefactor of Gilas Pilipinas

His work on TV5 was also an extensive one. Between 2011 and 2012, the Kapatid network snared the rights to several top-flight events, which include the following:

  • Philippine Basketball Association
  • United Football League
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (Philippines)
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (United States)
  • Olympic Games
  • National Football League’s Super Bowl
  • Gilas Pilipinas basketball games

At first, MVP collaborated with IBC-13 for a blocktime deal that became AKTV. But when cash flow problems surfaced, he ended the blocktime agreement and was forced to utilize both TV5 and AksyonTV for their sports coverage.

Unfortunately for TV5, they encountered greater problems in handling such coverage. As a result, their entertainment programming was extremely compromised, while news programs on AksyonTV gradually eroded to the point that they were either cancelled or preempted.

Although the network managed to take advantage of the all-sports channel HYPER on its Cignal subscription service, it is clear that Sports5’s problems are becoming increasingly hard to overcome. Which leads to 2016, the year where the network’s contracts with the PBA, Olympics and the UFL are up for either renewal or expiration.

Considering these irreparable problems, the smart choice of action for TV5 at this point is to not renew their contracts with the said events. But with other networks enduring a variety of obstacles themselves, and with ABS-CBN Sports all too loaded to commit for more events, all signs point to a reluctant renewal.

So what’s next for Sports5? No one knows, but for the next several months, their busy schedule will be an evaluation process to see if they still have what it takes to be a big-time player in Philippine sports.

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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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Philippines, Sports, television

The Super Liga Is Now on Sports5

The Philippine Super Liga will have a new partner in Sports5. (Photo credit: Business Mirror)

After a two-year partnership with Solar Sports, the Philippine Super Liga decided to switch gears for the benefit of free TV viewers.

Starting this season, the PSL will be seen exclusively on Sports5’s free TV outlets. Most games will be aired live on AksyonTV, with select games to be simulcast on TV5.

Sports5 is no stranger to airing the PSL. During the volleyball league’s first season, a select number of playoff games were aired on the Sports5 channels, with Solar Sports then responsible for the production.

This time around, however, every game will be produced by the Sports5 team. The move to free TV should benefit not only the viewers, the fans and the volleyball community, but also the league itself, as it aims to sustain the growth and popularity of women’s volleyball in the country.

The 2015 PSL All-Filipino Conference will kick off this Saturday, March 21. Six teams will participate in the tournament: Cignal HD, Petron Blaze, Philips Gold, Shopinas.com, Foton, and Mane ‘N Tail.

Most games of the tournament will be held at the two Pasay City venues: Mall of Asia Arena and the Cuneta Astrodome. A few other games will be held outside Metro Manila, all for the benefit of provincial fans.

A new season should bring bigger opportunities, and for the Philippine Super Liga, a move to free TV will mean a lot to the league’s growth and success.

UPDATE: The Philippine Super Liga will continue to air on Solar Sports, with live games on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The games on the Sports5 channels will feature Taglish commentary, while the games on Solar Sports will feature English commentary. However, Solar Sports will now carry the Sports5 feed, similar to the arrangement made during PBA games in both Sports5 and Fox Sports Philippines. 

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