Philippines, Sports, television, United States

FTT Year 2017 in Review: The Hot or Not Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part IV)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2018, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at some of the Hot or Not moments that define the Philippine media this year.

If you missed out on Part IPart II and Part III of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

Here is Part IV of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

HOT: PBA at Philippine Arena

The final three games of the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals were held at the Philippine Arena. Not surprisingly, the venue was packed to the rafters, thanks in large part to the presence of crowd favorite and defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

Ginebra went on to defeat the Meralco Bolts in seven games, with Game 7 becoming the highest-attended PBA game ever with over 54,000 spectators. The victory also gave San Miguel Corporation a perfect 3-for-3 in terms of championships in the 2016-17 PBA season, with the San Miguel Beermen having conquered both the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cup as well.

NOT: ESPN5

TV5 started 2017 by defiantly telling viewers to ‘choose courage’ in their station ID. By the end of the year, however, courage turned to cowardice as Chot Reyes gradually turned TV5 into a sports-oriented network and stripped whatever’s left of the station’s content.

The final straw came in October when TV5 signed a deal with ESPN to rename its sports division into ESPN5. Since then, the collaboration purchased the broadcast rights to the National Football League and U.S. NCAA college basketball to go along with local sports such as the PBA and the Philippine SuperLiga.

HOT: International Football on S+A

Already with the rights to the NBA, UAAP, NCAA, FIFA football, ABL and ONE Championship among other sports, ABS-CBN Sports acquired another big fish late in the year thanks to a collaboration with beIN Sport and Triple CH. The deal brought in the Premier League, La Liga and the UEFA Champions League to S+A.

The acquisition is, in many ways, beneficial to Filipino football fans who are craving to watch some of the world’s top footballers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for free. However, with football having one of the most expensive broadcast rights in the world, it remains to be seen if ABS-CBN Sports’ risk will become a reward.

NOT: PFL on PTV-4

Suffice to say, the inaugural season of the Philippines Football League did not work out on the television side. The league faced plenty of problems with coveror PTV-4, namely weather postponements and the unexpected live broadcasts of President Rodrigo Duterte’s speeches.

By August the PFL suddenly disappeared from television as it became fed up with PTV-4’s presidential priorities. With the first season already complete, perhaps the time is now to find a new broadcast partner for next season.

HOT: NBA on ABS-CBN

2017 was a surprisingly productive year for ABS-CBN’s NBA coverage. Beginning with the 2017 playoffs, S+A aired NBA games every day up until the finals, with a few dates reserved for doubleheaders.

Once the finals began, ABS-CBN Sports employed a simulcast on both Channel 2 and S+A. The former featured commentary from Boom Gonzales and TJ Manotoc live from the U.S. while the latter used the feed featuring ESPN announcers Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Doris Burke.

ABS-CBN also made NBA games available on S+A’s HD platform, which was previously separate and distinct from its SD counterpart. However, ABS-CBN’s surprise increase in NBA game coverage was just a reprieve for SkyCable subscribers, no thanks in part to a brewing controversy.

NOT: Solar Entertainment/SkyCable Controversy

It was deja vu all over again as Solar Entertainment pulled out its cable channels from SkyCable amid furor over NBA broadcast rights. The network claimed that ABS-CBN owed them millions of pesos for the rights to carry Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV.

The conflict remains unresolved as of now due to conflicting statements between the two parties. This left angry NBA fans with no choice but to switch over to other cable and satellite outlets or subscribe to NBA League Pass.

HOT: Sports News Programs on TV

2017 saw two new sports news programs debut on Philippine television. In January, the ABS-CBN News Channel premiered ‘Gametime’ with Migs Bustos at the helm, while in December, ESPN5 brought in ‘SportsCenter Philippines’ with Aaron Atayde, Lia Cruz, Magoo Marjon and Amanda Fernandez as its anchors.

Meanwhile, CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’ lost one of its pillars as Mico Halili announced his departure from the network amid rumors of a reorganization. Finally, PTV-4 announced that PTV Sports would return as a standalone program after nearly a year’s absence, with Dennis Principe once again at the helm alongside Meg Siozon and Angel Atienza.

NOT: WWE on FOX

Carriage issues also got in the way of WWE programming on FOX Philippines’ family of networks as it announced that they would cease ties with the wresting promotion after a six-year run. This was due to the two parties’ inability to agree on a renewal.

Shortly thereafter, TV5 announced that they would air WWE programs on their networks, but so far, only the condensed edition of SmackDown is currently on their lineup. As for Raw, the commercial-free 90-minute edition was made available on WWE’s YouTube page (for Philippine viewers only) while other programs can be seen via the WWE Network service.

Summary and Outlook

Overall, 2017 was both a challenge and an experience for media in the Philippines. Longstanding issues and pressing concerns were all over the place as each network tried its best to resolve each and every one of them.

Looking ahead to 2018, there are still plenty more challenges to conquer and some new tasks to take. The evolution in media does not stop here and From the Tube will continue to bring in the latest news in the world of broadcasting come next year.

In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Philippines, Sports, television

The Latest on Basketball TV: NBL and PCCL

Basketball TV is still alive and well.

Despite the spate of problems that plagued the network this year, it appears that BTV is soldiering on. And recently, two new basketball leagues were added to BTV’s portfolio.

Australia’s National Basketball League came to BTV last October. Founded in 1979, the eight-team league consists of teams from Australia and New Zealand.

BTV’s acquisition of the NBL is seen as a response to ABS-CBN Sports’ addition of the ASEAN Basketball League and the loss of FIBA basketball to ESPN5. After all, with the network being derided as a poor man’s NBA Premium TV, they needed to tap into other international leagues to stay relevant, hence the NBL.

However, this is not the first time that the NBL made its way into Philippine shores. During the mid to late 2000s, ESPN Star Sports had the rights to showcase Australia’s top professional basketball league.

With that, the addition of the NBL should give Filipino hoop fans another reason to go beyond the NBA when it comes to finding great basketball talents. However, the NBL is not the only league that BTV added.

Earlier this week, BTV announced that they will also air games of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League alongside Fox Sports Philippines. The PCCL will make its return after a one-year absence due to various logistical issues.

The 2017-18 edition of the PCCL will not only feature the customary 5-on-5 national tournament that will determine the national collegiate champion, but also a 3-on-3 national tournament. Fox Sports will air the 3-on-3 games, while BTV will have the rights to the 5-on-5 tournament.

BTV is no stranger to the PCCL tournament. The network (along with Solar Sports) had the rights to air the PCCL during the mid-2000s, after which ABS-CBN Sports acquired the PCCL rights to capitalize on the popularity of UAAP and NCAA basketball.

However, ABS-CBN and the PCCL organizers decided to cut ties in 2017 amid questions surrounding the league’s credibility. The entire 2017 tournament was canceled and it was not until November that the PCCL resurfaced with new partners BTV and Fox Sports Philippines.

One can only hope that these new acquisitions will serve BTV well in the near future. If not, fans should look forward to their next moves.

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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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news, Philippines, politics, Sports, television

PTV-4’s PFL Coverage in Hot Water

The PFL’s live matches are currently aired on PTV-4, but speaking engagements of President Rodrigo Duterte have often interrupted their coverage. (Logo courtesy of the Philippines Football League)

There is trouble brewing in the Philippines Football League.

The first season of the fledgling soccer league is currently broadcast on government-owned People’s Television Network (PTV-4), but so far, soccer fans were not happy with the network’s treatment of the matches. In more than one instance, live broadcasts of the PFL were rudely interrupted by President Rodrigo Duterte’s speeches to the nation.

As the only government television station, it is always mandatory for PTV-4 to broadcast each and every live appearance of the president. But if it takes place in the middle of a sports event such as the PFL, fans have every right to complain and voice their disapproval to the network.

 

The PFL is a young and promising league, and television coverage is a must for them to gain further awareness from not only the growing soccer community, but also the general public. But with the way that PTV-4 has treated them, there is a possibility that their relationship could end after only a season together.

If PTV-4 were smart enough to realize the advancements in technology, they should have provided the PFL with a free live stream platform so that the matches can continue online with no interruptions. Unfortunately, the network is still on a rebuilding phase as they focus on the improvement of current facilities and nationwide reach.

So where will the PFL go to? There are plenty of options, but there are some pros and cons.

ABS-CBN Sports has had a history of raising the profile of some of the sporting events they broadcast, but with their commitments already too loaded, there may be no room for the PFL to showcase their matches. Sports5, whose previous soccer experience is with the defunct United Football League (UFL), is also an option, but their reach is questionable.

Solar Sports is also a possibility, but their pullout from media giant SkyCable as well as Solar Entertainment’s financial troubles may also come to play. There is also Fox Sports Philippines with three different channels to choose from, but fitting in may be an issue.

As for GMA, don’t think about that anytime soon because Felipe Gozon and company have no interest in returning to the sporting arena full-time. If all else fails, they can stick around with PTV-4, as long as the network improves its approach.

The PFL has a long way to go before becoming the legitimate national soccer league in the Philippines. But to do so, they need the benefit of television to boost their morale, and so far the start has been anything but impressive.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

More Trouble for Basketball TV with Delayed NBA Playoff Games

Basketball TV’s problems are as frustrating as ever.

Nearly a month after the channel unknowingly disappeared from SkyCable alongside fellow Solar Entertainment channels Solar Sports, Jack TV, NBA Premium TV and CT, viewers are now forced to deal with another concern. And this is something not as troublesome as a mere channel pullout, but is still an issue nonetheless.

Since the beginning of the NBA Playoffs, BTV has aired mostly tape-delayed games, particularly late in the first round and all of the conference semifinals so far. It appears that Solar has officially deferred to NBA Premium TV, FOX Sports and ABS-CBN Sports when it comes to all live playoff games, leaving BTV to air mostly highlights and press conferences.

BTV’s obvious inaction and lack of urgency angered a majority of viewers who expected the channel to deliver when it mattered the most. Many are unhappy with BTV’s delayed broadcasts of playoff games and overemphasis on press conferences and game highlights, and some even went as far as calling BTV ‘crap’ and ‘disgraceful’.

This latest bit of criticism only served to add insult to injury for one of Solar Entertainment’s most well-known channels. With ABS-CBN Sports now serving as the de facto source for NBA basketball to free TV, cable and satellite viewers, BTV is left helpless with the way they harshly treated the NBA Playoffs.

To Solar’s credit, they are still trying their best to give BTV an opportunity to showcase some NBA playoff games to the viewing public. It is the scheduling of these games, not to mention the long-standing issues with SkyCable, however, that leaves a lot to be desired.

That said, it is clear that Solar Entertainment is no longer a good fit to run Basketball TV (and NBA Premium TV for that matter) with all these issues involved. Unless they sell it to a more willing operator like ABS-CBN (click this article for more), expect BTV to endure more problems and criticisms in the coming months.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Solar Channels Unavailable on SkyCable, Plus FOX Loses WWE Rights to TV5

Bad news for NBA and WWE fans in the Philippines.

Since last week, Solar Entertainment channels Basketball TV, NBA Premium TV, Jack TV, Solar Sports and CT were unavailable on SkyCable. The message posted by the company is as follows:

SKY regrets to inform its valuable subscribers that Solar channels, namely NBA Premium, BTV, Jack TV, Solar Sports, and CT are temporarily not available. It is unfortunate that it has affected the airing of the NBA playoffs.

Solar has been our valued partner for many years. We are working with them for a resolution, but we cannot comment on the details of our discussions.

NBA fans, however, can continue to watch the playoff games beginning this Sunday, April 16, all through the finals via ABS-CBN Sports + Action and Fox Sports channel. They can check the updated schedules posted here.

The concerns of our subscribers and viewers are of utmost importance to us. Again, we offer our sincere apologies for the inconvenience.

The loss of Solar channels hit NBA fans hard, as Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV air a majority of the games daily per season. As a result, the NBA decided to appease the demands of viewers by assigning two games per day on ABS-CBN’s S+A channel, plus a select amount on Fox Sports Philippines and ABS-CBN Channel 2 while the situation is being fixed.

This is not the first time that SkyCable viewers vented their anger over the company’s issues with Solar Entertainment. In 2008, SkyCable pulled out Basketball TV, Jack TV and Solar Sports in favor of Creative Programs’ own channels due to an alleged television contract issue with Manny Pacquiao, but the channels were later reinstated.

Moving over to the world of sports-entertainment, FOX Philippines stunned Filipino wrestling fans by announcing that they will no longer carry WWE programs on the network after an attempt to negotiate a renewal failed to materialize. The statement can be seen below.

FOX had been a valued partner of the WWE since 2011, airing not only pay-per-views, 205 Live, NXT, Raw and SmackDown, but also complementary programs. However, the network drew the ire of some wrestling fans when it failed to air a select number of pay-per-views following the brand extension last July.

In a related development, TV5 announced that they have agreed to air WWE programs beginning April 30. No further details were made, but the network is expected to use Channel 5, AksyonTV and HYPER as vehicles to broadcast WWE events, both live and recap.

It remains to be seen if TV5 will do the same things that FOX used to do, but regardless, wrestling fans should rejoice this decision. Good luck.

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