Philippines, Sports, television

ABS-CBN Sports: Basketball TV’s Only Hope

The loss of FIBA basketball and the abrupt cancellation of the NCRUCLAA coverage has hurt Basketball TV’s profile of late. (Logo courtesy of Solar Entertainment)

Basketball TV’s 10th year on the air has not been a smooth-sailing one.

The Solar Entertainment-owned network has seen plenty of losses in the last several months. Not only did it lose the FIBA basketball rights to Sports5, it also cut short its broadcast of the fledgling NCRUCLAA men’s basketball tournament a month into its maiden season.

On the positive side though, they managed to air an entire season’s worth of the NAASCU men’s basketball tournament while continuing its long and loyal commitment to the NBA and its related properties. Still, BTV’s increasing irrelevance has put a lot of pressure on Solar, and with the costs still growing, BTV’s days appear to be numbered.

There is a reason why BTV is known as ‘Basketball TV’: it is the home to a variety of basketball tournaments. While the network centers around the NBA, it also aired a number of other tournaments as well, such as the Euroleague, the U.S. NCAA March Madness, and local leagues such as the PBA and the defunct Philippine Basketball League.

However, as 2017 proved to be a poor year for both BTV and Solar, it is clear that the former needs a lot of help. At this point, a backup financier is all that BTV requires, and they can look no further than a fellow coveror of NBA games.

Back in 2011, ABS-CBN Sports signed a deal with the NBA to cover its games on free TV. Now the partnership between ABS-CBN and the NBA is six years strong, and they also expanded their scope online when ABS-CBN signed a contract with the NBA to operate the Filipino website of NBA.com.

ABS-CBN Sports also carry a wealth of experience covering local basketball. The network has existing deals with the UAAP and NCAA, and more recently, they began to broadcast the ASEAN Basketball League, along with grassroots basketball tournaments such as the NBTC and Slam Rising Stars competitions.

If Basketball TV wants to survive this cutthroat world of cable television, their only hope right now is to join forces with ABS-CBN Sports. With the latter’s experience and deep pockets, they could help BTV in any way, shape or form when it comes to providing top-notch basketball coverage.

It may take some time to materialize, but let’s face it, this is the only choice for BTV given their recent issues. That said, let’s just hope that Solar will be willing to allow rival ABS-CBN Sports to resuscitate BTV, and in doing so, alleviate the pressure of running a high-profile cable channel in the Philippines.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Basketball TV Is Now a Poor Man’s NBA Premium

Basketball TV's growing emphasis on local leagues comes at a price, as TV5 plucked the FIBA tournaments (in particular Gilas Pilipinas) away from the network. (Photo credit: FIBA.com)

Basketball TV’s growing emphasis on local leagues comes at a price, as TV5 plucked the FIBA tournaments (in particular Gilas Pilipinas) away from the network. (Photo credit: FIBA.com)

There is a changing of the guard on Basketball TV.

Since its first broadcast in 2006, BTV has been the home for numerous top-notch basketball tournaments. Their flagship product is obviously the NBA, but the network has also aired a number of other tournaments, namely the U.S. NCAA, FIBA and the Euroleague.

However, a recent rebrand last year brought in some drastic changes to BTV’s image. Gone were the major global tournaments that made the network stand out, and in their place were local tournaments such as the NAASCU and the ongoing NCRUCLAA men’s basketball competitions.

The additions of the NAASCU and NCRUCLAA to BTV gave both leagues an outlet with which they can expose themselves to a local audience. But at what cost does a pair of not-so famous leagues come in exchange for more recognizable tournaments?

The loss of FIBA tournaments, in particular, should sting BTV a lot. After all, this is the very same station which brought the FIBA game to a local audience, particularly with the return to prominence of Gilas Pilipinas.

Unfortunately, as TV5 president and Gilas coach Chot Reyes decided to give his own network the exclusive rights to all FIBA basketball games, BTV can only watch helplessly as its second most recognizable product gets taken away by a rival outfit. Such a shame for Wilson Tieng and company.

With the loss of FIBA to TV5, Basketball TV’s only source of relevance now is the NBA. At this point, 80% of BTV’s programming consists of the NBA and its related properties such as the NBA D-League and the WNBA.

As for the remaining 20%, these are now allocated to the NAASCU, NCRUCLAA and other future local competitions. In essence, BTV has become a poor man’s NBA Premium based on these numbers.

The future of Basketball TV will depend on how Solar Entertainment can properly maintain the network. If they can no longer do so, perhaps NBA co-rightsholder ABS-CBN Sports can step in and give a helping hand to its troubled rival.

The BTV people knew had an impressively strong lineup. Now, after over a decade, it was nothing but a distant memory, even if the network decides to give local leagues a chance.

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Philippines, Sports

In 100 Words: No Euroleague on BTV, Again

The Euroleague is arguably the second most widely recognized basketball league in the world, next to the NBA. But its coverage in the Philippines has been rather patchy, at best.

In the past, Basketball TV covered Euroleague matches from the eliminations all the way to the finals. But there have been two instances where BTV did not air any Euroleague games.

In the 2009-10 season, the now-defunct ESPN Star Sports group covered the Euroleague games. This season, the Euroleague was shut out of any sports-centric cable network in the country, presumably due to its lack of popularity among basketball aficionados in the country.

Nobody knows when will Euroleague basketball return to Philippine shores, but for a league so highly regarded, they surely deserve some respect, even from the PBA and Philippine basketball.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Will March Madness Be Aired on BTV?

So far, Basketball TV has not aired any U.S. NCAA college basketball game this year. As a result, the upcoming broadcast of March Madness on that station remains uncertain.

It’s already the fourth month of the college basketball season in the United States, and yet Basketball TV in the Philippines has not aired any game of the U.S. NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball conference tournaments. Now the question is: Will March Madness be aired on BTV?

In previous years, BTV aired select games of the U.S. NCAA conference tournaments, mostly coming from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). BTV also aired select games of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, including all of the Elite Eight, Final Four and the Championship rounds, as part of ‘March Madness on BTV’. Its commitment to the NCAA attracted some NBA fans who looked forward to watch some of the most hyped NBA prospects in action.

However, contrary to the inclusion of the Louisville Cardinals’ championship victory on its station ID, BTV has not been able to broadcast any U.S. NCAA game this year. A lot of basketball fans were looking forward to watch future stars such as Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker play, and BTV is surely expected to give college basketball fans what they want to see. Unfortunately, that was not the case this year.

If Basketball TV decides not to pursue anymore its broadcast of March Madness, let alone the entire NCAA college basketball season, it will be a huge loss to the network. They already lost the rights to the Spanish Liga ACB this year, leaving them with only the NBA, Euroleague, NBA D-League, FIBA Basketball and local tournaments such as the SBP-Passerelle as their primary outlets. Losing the US NCAA will definitely be demoralizing, and more importantly, college basketball fans will not be happy about it.

It remains to be seen if March Madness will be picked up on another network. For now, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and other future NBA stars will not have any airtime on any station in the Philippines this year.

UPDATE: Sports5 executive and Gilas head coach Chot Reyes tweeted today that March Madness or the US NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will be seen on TV5 this March. The coverage will likely involve sister stations AksyonTV and HYPER. More information on this event coming soon. As for Basketball TV, they should start editing their station ID now that March Madness is out of the network.

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