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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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Despite Airing March Madness, US NCAA Remains Out of BTV’s Equation

Creighton star Kobe Paras may be making his presence felt in the U.S. NCAA, but the league's lack of popularity in his home country continues to be a problem. (Photo credit: Fox Sports Asia)

Creighton star Kobe Paras may be making waves in the U.S. NCAA, but the league’s lack of popularity in his home country continues to be a problem. (Photo credit: Fox Sports Asia)

It is obvious that U.S. college basketball will never get the respect it deserves from Filipino hoop fans.

Such is the case for the U.S. NCAA men’s basketball tournament. While top conference tournaments such as the ACC, PAC-12 and the Big 12 air regularly on the FOX Sports family of networks and Sports Illustrated Asia, one network in the Philippines is noticeably absent.

The network in question is Solar Entertainment’s Basketball TV, who back in April aired the U.S. NCAA Final Four and Championship games alongside Solar Sports. Unfortunately, the network’s emphasis on the more popular NBA once again put into question their commitment to air next year’s March Madness, let alone the entire U.S. NCAA season.

The last time BTV actually aired regular season U.S. NCAA basketball games was back in the 2012-13 season. This was also the last time the network aired March Madness prior to last April.

The history between the U.S. NCAA and Basketball TV date back to the fledgling network’s first season in 2006-07. Back then, the network was home to several popular conference tournaments, and they also aired a select number of March Madness games as well.

Unfortunately, U.S. college basketball failed to make an imprint in the consciousness of Filipino hoop fans. Unlike the UAAP or the Filipino NCAA where its rules are based on FIBA’s template (hence a faster style of play), the U.S. NCAA employs a unique set of rules such as 20-minute halves, 30 or 35-second shot clocks, and one-and-one free throw situations.

It also did not help that U.S. college basketball players are essentially obscure names. The fact is, for Filipino hoop fans, they will only gain popularity if they were drafted in the NBA and play well there.

That said, BTV’s decision to drop the U.S. NCAA coverage back in the 2013-14 season was the right choice considering its lack of popularity here. While it did manage to air the Final Four in April, it was done out of necessity since no other network was committed enough to air.

Although Creighton’s Kobe Paras is trying to lift the profile of U.S. NCAA basketball in the Philippines, one thing is clear. U.S. NCAA hoops will never become as popular as the NBA here, and that’s a painful fact.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

ABS-CBN Goes All Out With Local NBA Commentary

The NBA on ABS-CBN Sports is now in Taglish on a full-time basis.

Since opening week, all NBA games on ABS-CBN and ABS-CBN Sports+Action are called straight from the network’s studios in Quezon City. The commentary of the games are being rotated among its four announcers: Ronnie Magsanoc, Benjie Paras, Boom Gonzales and TJ Manotoc.

It can be recalled that ABS-CBN began to air NBA regular season games with their commentators at the start of this year. Initially the local commentary is exclusive to Channel 2, but come the conference finals, it has been extended to its sister station on Channel 23.

During the previous season’s NBA Finals, however, ABS-CBN elected to keep their local crew at the studio instead of sending them to the United States, presumably to save costs. This seems more logical, as the finals games on the network are now broadcast on a delayed basis due to various programming concerns.

This season, ABS-CBN made the jump towards an all-local NBA coverage for all of its games. The debut of the full-time ‘localized’ NBA coverage took place on opening night last October 28, when Sports+Action aired the Cleveland Cavaliers-Chicago Bulls matchup with commentary from Ronnie Magsanoc and Benjie Paras.

This latest move by ABS-CBN Sports is intended towards attracting a more ‘masa’ audience. But for those disenchanted with this decision, don’t worry, because NBA games on Basketball TV, Fox Sports Asia and NBA Premium TV will still feature commentary from American announcers.

NBA games are currently aired on ABS-CBN Sports+Action every Friday, Sunday and Monday, and on ABS-CBN every Saturday. ABS-CBN Sports will also air a Christmas game and several late-season games if possible.

For more information on the upcoming NBA broadcasts in the Philippines, click on this link.

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Philippines, radio, Sports, television

A Full-Time Return to TV5 for the PBA

The defending grand slam champions Purefoods Star Hotshots (formerly San Mig Super Coffee Mixers) and 11 other teams will once again wage war as the PBA kicks off its 40th season on the TV5 family of networks. (Photo credit: Purefoods Star Hotshots official Facebook)

The Philippine Basketball Association is definitely back on TV5.

Starting with the 2014-15 season, all games of the PBA will now be seen on the flagship TV5 network every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Kapatid network last aired a full slate of PBA games during the 2007-08 season, when it was still under the ABC branding.

As a result of the PBA’s full-time return to TV5, here is the new schedule that will be implemented during weekday games:

4:15 p.m. – PBA first game

6:30 p.m. – Aksyon Prime

7:00 p.m. – PBA second game

9:15 p.m. – Wattpad Presents

9:45 p.m. – The Amazing Race Philippines 2

There will be no changes to the schedules on Saturdays and Sundays, as the PBA games usually occupy the more vacant slots.

In addition, Radyo5 92.3 News FM will now air a majority of the PBA games for its radio listeners. As a result, here is the weekday schedule for Radyo5 during PBA game days:

6:00 a.m. – Orly Mercado All Ready

7:30 a.m. – Punto Asintado

9:00 a.m. – Bitag Live

10:00 a.m. – Aksyon Solusyon

11:00 a.m. – Cristy FerMinute

12:30 p.m. – Relasyon

2:00 p.m. – Wanted sa Radyo

4:15 p.m. – PBA first game

6:30 p.m. – Aksyon Prime

7:00 p.m. – PBA second game

9:15 p.m. – Remoto Control

Radyo5 will also air Sunday games in lieu of its all-music program ‘Sunday By Heart’. However, it remains to be seen if they will also carry Saturday playdates, since the majority of these games will be held in the provinces.

In a related development, Sports5 announced that AksyonTV will once again simulcast the PBA games. Last season, AksyonTV carried the bulk of the PBA schedule, which unfortunately, brought not only criticism but also confusion from the viewing public.

This time around, however, the simulcast of the PBA games on AksyonTV seem more like a need rather than an option for the embattled station. Following the demise of AKTV and the integration of Sports5 events to AksyonTV, the station has been criticized for airing too many re-runs whenever there are no sports events to cover, since the ‘AksyonTV originals’ were cancelled just for this move.

For cable subscribers, Fox Sports Asia will continue to air the PBA games on Wednesdays, with English-language commentary from Sports5 announcers. They will also air the cup finals in its entirety.

Hyper will also air replays of the PBA games, albeit exclusive only to Cignal subscribers. And finally, for online subscribers, the PBA can now be seen via livestreaming on the official PBA on Sports5 website.

In two days, the 2014-15 PBA Philippine Cup gets underway. For the 12 teams participating, and to the TV5 family of networks, good luck in giving the fans a whole lot of basketball action all season long.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Mayweather-Maidana II on FOX and TV5; PacMan Returns to GMA

Unnoticed on Philippine TV the first time, the rematch between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Marcos Maidana will finally get its due.

TV5 and FOX Sports Asia will broadcast the second installment of Mayweather-Maidana, with the former’s WBC, WBA and The Ring welterweight titles and the WBC light middleweight title on the line. The bout will be aired on tape delay this Sunday at 12:00 p.m.

Mayweather and Maidana first fought on May 3 (May 4, Manila time), with the former successfully defending his titles and preserving his unbeaten record via majority decision. However, no TV station in the Philippines, not even GMA or Solar Sports, covered the fight, angering some boxing fans in the process.

This time around, however, TV5 and FOX Sports Asia are making sure that the rematch won’t be missed by boxing fans across the country.

The rematch between the two combatants will be as highly anticipated as the first. While Mayweather’s attempt to retain his titles and unbeaten record will once again be the center of attention, boxing fans will also look forward to Maidana’s quest to exact revenge, as he once again tries to become the first boxer to beat Mayweather in the ring.

Mayweather-Maidana II is a rematch worth watching. And boxing fans can’t wait.

A New Show for PacMan, Again

Manny Pacquiao gets another crack at the small screen.

PacMan’s latest television program, ‘MP Featuring Sport Science’, will premiere on GMA this Sunday on a timeslot that is yet to be determined. The said program will feature segments from ESPN’s ‘Sport Science’.

The entry of ‘MP Featuring Sport Science’ came at a not-so opportune time. Pacquiao has been busy preparing for his fight against Chris Algieri in November, while also dabbling into his new role as a player and head coach of the PBA’s Kia Sorentos.

Pacquiao also serves as a congressman of Sarangani province, but due to his frequent absences, he has not been able to fully commit to his political responsibilities.

For the ‘Pambansang Kamao’, ‘MP Featuring Sport Science’ represents an opportunity for redemption, especially after his recent shows ‘Show Me Da Manny’, ‘Manny Many Prizes’ and ‘Para sa ‘Yo ang Laban na ‘To’ flopped in the ratings. But then again, PacMan’s redemption is easier said than done, since its upcoming opposition are just as strong ratings-wise.

Viewers, critics and fans can only hope that Pacquiao’s latest foray into television will not affect his preparations for an upcoming boxing match, not to mention his stint in professional basketball. ‘MP Featuring Sport Science’ may be a program worth watching, but does it help PacMan in any way? Let’s see.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

March Madness: Solar’s Loss is TV5’s Gain

Top-ranked pro prospect Andrew Wiggins and other college basketball stars will be in the spotlight as the US NCAA March Madness will air on TV5 and its affiliates.

This March, the US NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, more popularly known as ‘March Madness’, will be shown in the Philippines via the networks of TV5. The Kapatid network’s acquisition of March Madness gives the event some much-needed exposure on free TV, something that its previous coveror could not afford. But how did TV5 earn their ticket to ‘March Madness’?

For several years, coverage of March Madness was given to Solar Sports via its all-basketball channel Basketball TV. In addition to the NCAA tournament, the network also aired select regular season and postseason games from popular conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, and the Pacific-10 (later Pacific-12) Conference. However, when BTV did not air any US NCAA college games this year, the March Madness coverage in the country was put into question.

Looking back, there were some shortcomings to BTV’s coverage of March Madness, and of US NCAA basketball in general. Because the network’s primary focus is on the NBA, coverage of regular season college basketball was restricted to tape-delay broadcasts, unlike in Fox Sports Philippines (formerly ESPN) where it can air the games live. Then come March Madness, BTV would be forced to tape-delay NBA games and air a minimum of one game per round, alienating some rabid NBA fans and even college basketball viewers.

With mounting pressure from its viewers, Solar and Basketball TV had no choice but to finally drop the US NCAA college basketball from its lineup. It wasn’t until late February that Sports5 decided to step up, announcing that it has acquired the rights for the US NCAA March Madness. Its announcement came just as the 2014 Winter Olympics on the Kapatid network was about to finish.

Sports5’s coverage of the US NCAA March Madness include free TV broadcasts of select games on TV5 and AksyonTV 41, complementary live broadcasts on cable network Hyper and Cignal HD pay-per-view, and live streaming though PLDT’s broadband services. This means that more games will be offered in each platform, giving college basketball fans additional options to watch their favorite US NCAA schools run towards the championship.

Now that TV5 and its affiliates will have the rights to the US NCAA March Madness, the countdown to the most highly-anticipated college basketball tournament in the world is underway. And college basketball fans can’t wait to watch.

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