anime, entertainment, Philippines, television

In 150 Words: Hero Revived as Jeepney TV Programming Block

Hero is back on television, sort of.

Filipino anime fans rejoiced as the Hero brand was revived as a programming block of Jeepney TV. Starting March 11, select anime programs will be aired on Jeepney TV every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. as part of the Hero Zone block.

It can be recalled that Hero the cable channel left the airwaves last January 31 after a 13-year run. While it became a purely digital portal that concentrated on anime, pop culture and gaming, anime viewers sorely missed its presence on television, even as sister channel Yey! tried to make up for Hero’s absence with new titles of its own.

Although if it will only be a two-hour habit once a week, viewers should be more than happy to enjoy a treat of new and on-demand anime from the Hero Zone block. Still, it remains to be seen if this experiment will be a long-term one.

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anime, cable TV, Japan, Philippines, television

Goodbye, Hero

Tomorrow will be the last day for Hero TV.

Hero, a cable channel of ABS-CBN affiliate Creative Programs Inc., will permanently sign off at 11:59 p.m. of January 31st. Similar to the case of now-defunct sister channels TAG and ABS-CBN Regional Channel, a ‘change of business direction’ is cited behind the closure of Hero.

Hero was first launched on November 12, 2005 and became the only channel in the Philippines to showcase Tagalized dubs of Japanese anime. The content of Hero ranged from classic anime titles (some of which were redubbed) first shown on ABS-CBN and other channels to new acquisitions fresh from its original Japanese airing.

But Hero is not exclusive to anime alone. Over the years, the channel also showcased tokusatsu programs (e.g. ‘Masked Rider’ series and ‘Shaider’) and even original programs produced by the network that focused on the cosplay culture and other anime-related news.

Just as Hero was starting to take off, however, a new digital free TV channel was being planned by ABS-CBN to eventually inherit its place. In 2011, Yey! was launched, and four years later, the ABS-CBN TVPlus digital TV box made its commercial debut.

Still, CPI soldiered on with Hero despite the presence of Yey!. Unfortunately, the growing sales of ABS-CBN TVPlus along with the rise of undubbed new anime on the internet necessitated cord-cutters to shift to these new medium, and as a result, Hero’s viability was put into question.

Sadly, such factors became too much for Hero, and in early January, CPI finally delivered the bad news. Hero would cease to exist whether its loyal fans liked it or not.

Regardless of how it ended, the 12-year run of Hero is worth remembering for Filipino anime fans. In the days leading up to its closure, Hero’s social media pages were flooded with appreciation posts, thanking them for their service in delivering Filipino-dubbed classic and fresh anime to their satisfaction.

Hero’s final call to arms should be a memorable one. But for those who still crave for more anime, there is Animax and AniPlus to deal with it, as well as Yey! for Tagalized ones.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Evaluating the First Month of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports V.2

The NCAA’s return to ABS-CBN Sports has been a good one so far. (Logo courtesy of the NCAA)

The second incarnation of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports is now a month old.

The oldest collegiate league in the country returned to ABS-CBN Sports in hopes of getting back on track. So far, though, viewers were treated to a slightly similar broadcast approach as the one that Sports5 previously handled, with a few differences of course.

Here’s a look at how ABS-CBN was able to make their mark on the league so far.

Use of Taglish

Unexpectedly, the network decided to use Taglish while calling the games. In their first run from 2002-12, ABS-CBN Sports announcers called the NCAA games in English, but with Sports+Action increasingly attracting a mass audience, the use of Taglish was necessitated.

This was the same approach that TV5 used when they covered the NCAA, but unfortunately for them, they failed to catch on for various reasons.

Emphasis on Social Media

The NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports also tapped in a new market called social media. Throughout each game, tweets and Instagram posts from players, fans and even basketball enthusiasts are read by the announcers in relation to the game at hand, with an official hashtag to boot.

They even allow announcers to take pre-game selfies (a novel practice in sports broadcasting), which are then posted to their individual Instagram accounts. And for the curious viewers, graphics of the announcers’ names now include their Twitter and/or Instagram accounts.

New Announcers

Speaking of announcers, ABS-CBN Sports employed a mix of young and experienced broadcasters to the NCAA game. Anton Roxas and Andrei Felix were carried over from the original incarnation, while Boom Labrusca, who also doubles as a courtside reporter, is a neophyte to the play-by-play profession.

Unlike TV5 which used former professional players as analysts, ABS-CBN hired mostly former collegiate standouts in order to relate better with the college game. The network has used Mikee Reyes, Migs Bustos, Martin Antonio and Olsen Racela to analyze the games, with Racela having also worked with the Sports5 crew in the past.

Familiar and Not-So Familiar Courtside Reporters

Those who have watched the NCAA so far may notice some familiar and unsuspecting faces to the courtside reporter spot. Before the season began, ABS-CBN Sports announced that cosplayer, Hero TV jock and former ‘Pinoy Big Brother’ housemate Myrtle Sarrosa would be one of the courtside reporters for the season.

Since then, Myrtle was joined by the aforementioned Boom Labrusca, followed by Ceej Tantengco and Rox Montealegre. Quite a familiar bunch, but one with little experience to the world of sports.

The ABS-CBN Sports courtside reporters have three different responsibilities:

  1. To report on the teams’ strategies,
  2. To interview a player’s family members and friends, school alumni, students or fans, and
  3. To interview players and coaches during pregame and postgame (if applicable)

The said strategy is similar to what TV5 employed, but with less on-cam time.

Halftime Presentations

Halftime of each game usually consists of a brief glimpse of a school’s cheering exhibition, followed by a special feature and an analysis of the first half. For the viewers who had enough of TV5’s radical changes (e.g. Moneyball), this is a welcome development to bring back the intended mission of the NCAA: to promote loyalty, camaraderie and school spirit.

HD Broadcasts and Return of Smart and PLDT

In a surprise move, ABS-CBN welcomed Smart and PLDT as sponsors. The two telecommunications outfits are a sister company of ABS-CBN’s competitor TV5, which is a stunning move to say the least.

And finally, the NCAA games are now broadcast in its full 16:9 HD glory. While ABS-CBN Sports was the first to broadcast an event in HD, they did not fully take advantage of the new technology until this year.

So far, it’s been a beneficial first month of NCAA coverage. And while some would disagree with these moves, ABS-CBN is clearly intent on taking serious steps to make the NCAA more appealing to the masses.

The season is still a long way to go, but from the looks of it, the NCAA has found a perfect partner to thrive with. With a few tweaks, expect this partnership to last a lot longer.

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