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FTT Year 2016 in Review: The 20 Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part III)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2017, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 20 moments that define the Philippine media this year.

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

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

Pinoy Boyband Superstar Answers To the Top

Last year, GMA created its own reality talent show for up-and-coming Filipino boybands, ‘To the Top’. This year, ABS-CBN struck back by bringing the ‘La Banda’ franchise to the Philippines under the name ‘Pinoy Boyband Superstar’.

Unfortunately for GMA, the popularity of ‘Pinoy Boyband Superstar’ far exceeded ‘To the Top’. The former constantly gained ratings of 30% or better while airing at a more convenient timeslot of 6:50 p.m., whereas the latter only mustered around 7-8% ratings while airing at a not-so attractive timeslot of 9:45-10:00 p.m.

Despite the success of ‘Pinoy Boyband Superstar’, it remains to be seen if BoybandPH can become a more popular boyband than Top One Project ever was. That said, the key to both boybands at this point is to outsell each other in order to win the hearts of fans.

Delamar Leaves RX 93.1’s The Morning Rush

‘The Morning Rush’ on Monster RX 93.1 is an institution in Philippine FM radio, having aired continuously for over two decades. So when Delamar Arias decided to leave both the show and the station on July 29, listeners, or ‘rushers’, were stunned.

After all, Delamar, along with long-time partner Chico Garcia and recent addition Gino Quillamor, were instrumental in the show’s success, with the ‘Top 10’ segment becoming the most popular segment. Her departure left a glaring hole on ‘The Morning Rush’, one they have struggled to fill since.

Delamar was not the only high-profile departure from the station. A few weeks later, Bea Fabregas left RX to focus on hosting FOX Sports Philippines’ ‘Fox Sports Minute’ and ‘The GOAT’, while Karen Bordador was arrested for alleged drug possession and was de facto removed from the station.

The Launch of PBA Rush, Plus UFC on TV5 and Olympic Coverage

If Solar Entertainment has NBA Premium TV, then TV5 has its own channel for the PBA in PBA Rush. Launched prior to the 2016 Governors’ Cup, PBA Rush is considered the Filipino version of NBA TV, featuring live and archived PBA games plus special programs dedicated to the league.

The timing of PBA Rush’s launch couldn’t have come at an important time, as that year’s Governors’ Cup saw Barangay Ginebra San Miguel end an eight-year title drought at the expense of the Meralco Bolts. Ginebra’s win would have concluded PBA’s run with TV5, but instead the partnership between the two was renewed in time for the ongoing Philippine Cup.

TV5 also made a high-profile acquisition when it purchased the broadcast rights to the UFC, promising it to air live on its HYPER channel. Unfortunately, TV5’s coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics was a difficult one, as the network struggles to deal with its decline in programming quality.

Other Sports Stories on TV

ABS-CBN Sports replaced the UFC by focusing on local and regional mixed martial arts, namely the Alvin Aguilar-led URCC, and the Southeast Asia-based One Championship. They also brought in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) as part of its continued commitment to local and regional sports.

Solar Sports dabbled into collegiate basketball by airing the NAASCU, while IBC-13 and AksyonTV aired the UCBL and CESAFI tournaments respectively. However, the biggest draws remain the NCAA and the UAAP, where the San Beda Red Lions and the De La Salle Green Archers won their respective championships.

Finally, in women’s volleyball, ABS-CBN Sports acquired the rights to the Shakey’s V-League, beginning a contentious rivalry between the V-League and the TV5-aired Philippine SuperLiga.

Be My Lady Reigns, Ryzza Mae’s Run Ends

‘Be My Lady’, topbilled by real-life couple Erich Gonzales and Daniel Matsunaga,was the top draw at the pre-noontime slot for much of this year. Airing for 221 episodes from January 18 to November 25, the series earned ratings of nearly 20%, besting the competition in the process.

The aforementioned competition included a pair of shows starring Ryzza Mae Dizon: ‘Princess in the Palace’, and ‘Calle Siete’. But with Ryzza already entering the pre-teen stage of her life, it was clear that she was no longer the charmingly cute presence of years past.

In the end, TAPE decided to cease starring her on the pre-noontime slot beginning October 24, and gave the BAES (along with Taki Sato) of ‘Eat Bulaga’ a lead role in ‘TROPS’.

Part IV of this four-part series is coming up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

FOX Philippines Adds More WWE Programs to Already Loaded Lineup

FOX Philippines continues to strengthen its WWE programming with recap shows Bottom Line, Afterburn, This Week and Experience. (Logo courtesy of WWE)

FOX Philippines continues to strengthen its WWE programming with recap shows Bottom Line, Afterburn, This Week and Experience. (Logo courtesy of WWE)

It is clear that FOX Philippines is drastically changing its lineup for the benefit of wrestling fans.

Since the beginning of November, new episodes of WWE Raw and SmackDown Live are being aired on FOX Philippines within 12 hours of original American broadcast (FOX Sports Philippines continues to air both shows live). Now, more WWE programming awaits viewers of the said channel.

Starting the week of December 5, recap shows WWE Bottom Line, WWE This Week, WWE Afterburn and WWE Experience are placed on FOX Philippines’ regular lineup. They join the aforementioned Raw and SmackDown Live, as well as WWE Vintage, WWE NXT and WWE Main Event, in FOX’s menu.

Previously, Bottom Line, This Week, Afterburn and Experience were exclusive only to FOX Sports Philippines, who prior to nabbing the live broadcasts of Raw and SmackDown Live, were only content to air WWE recap shows to satisfy its commitments. Nowadays, the option of viewing WWE programs is more flexible than ever thanks to the two networks.

Despite that, however, there is still a question of whether or not FOX Philippines will recommit themselves to airing live pay-per-views. For now, though, that is out of the question, considering that ‘The Walking Dead’, by far the network’s most popular property, airs new episodes that could come in conflict with WWE pay-per-views.

Speaking of pay-per-views, FOX Philippines did air a SmackDown Live-exclusive pay-per-view when it aired WWE TLC last November 27. Still, it remains to be seen if they will indeed continue with this newfound commitment, now that the upcoming Raw-exclusive pay-per-view WWE Roadblock is slated for next week.

In other news, the replacement show for WWE Superstars, WWE 205 Live, is now being aired on FOX Sports Philippines. With that being said, FOX Philippines could find a way to accommodate this new program sooner or later, but for the time being, the program is exclusive only to FOX Sports Philippines.

Overall, FOX Philippines’ addition of more WWE programs is a good decision considering the renewed popularity of professional wrestling in the country. However, one week’s test is not enough so it’s up to them to keep this momentum going.

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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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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

WWE Raw and SmackDown Airs Live Next Week, But FOX’s Problems Resurface

WWE Raw and SmackDown will air live starting next week on FOX Sports Philippines, with a same-day replay on FOX Philippines. (Photo credit: WWE)

WWE Raw and SmackDown will air live starting next week on FOX Sports Philippines, with a same-day replay on FOX Philippines. (Photo credit: WWE)

WWE fans in the Philippines are in for a big surprise.

Starting next Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, new episodes of WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown will now air live at 8:00 a.m. on FOX Sports Philippines. Same-day replays will air within 12 hours of original broadcast on FOX Philippines.

With viewers becoming more dependent on WWE’s social media accounts to follow the action as it happens, it was only imperative for FOX to make this drastic measure. After all, the success of WWE Live in Manila last September only furthered wrestling fans’ desire to watch WWE programming on a regular basis.

Although the announcement was enthusiastically welcomed by WWE fans in the country, there are still some issues to address. Last Monday morning in Manila, many viewers awaited the live telecast of the Raw-exclusive Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on FOX Philippines, only to be greeted by replays of ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘American Dad’.

The erratic WWE pay-per-view scheduling issue on FOX Philippines has been well-documented since it fully acquired the company’s broadcast rights in 2014. There were times when WWE pay-per-views were aired on the channel live, and there were other occasions when it first aired within 12-13 hours of original broadcast.

And just recently, FOX began to focus more on the flagship Raw brand once the brand extension came into play. As a result, SmackDown-branded pay-per-views were not aired, and to make matters worse, SmackDown itself was aired on a one-week delay.

While FOX Philippines should be excused for not airing Hell in a Cell live (thank you ‘The Walking Dead’), their indecision is an inexcusable one. Come on, FOX Sports Philippines also airs WWE programming (mostly recap shows), so why not transfer those live pay-per-views to the said channel.

As for the delay and subsequent snubbing of SmackDown and its related programs, it is unfair to do such a thing. Both Raw and SmackDown are equally important and must-watch shows, and deemphasizing either one of them is insulting to any wrestling fan.

As both FOX networks move on to upcoming pay-per-views and episodes of Raw and SmackDown, one thing is certain: no one wants to be left behind. For wrestling fans, this is a promise that FOX will have to fulfill in the weeks ahead.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

BTV Robbed by NBA’s Biased Scheduling Assignments

The first week of NBA playoff coverage on Basketball TV will focus on less popular teams like the Raptors and Pacers, rather than the more highly followed ones like the Warriors and Cavaliers. (Photo credit: Solar Entertainment)

The NBA Playoffs have not been kind to Basketball TV these days.

When the NBA released its playoff schedule for Filipino broadcast partners, five things stood out for Basketball TV as far as the first week of coverage is concerned. They are:

  1. No assigned game to BTV for April 20, Wednesday. The said date (Manila time) will feature Game 2 of both the Hawks/Celtics and Spurs/Grizzlies series.
  2. A combined six appearances in eight playdates for either the Raptors/Pacers or the Heat/Hornets series, with the other two assigned to the Hawks/Celtics series.
  3. No Western Conference games, plus the Cavaliers/Pistons series.
  4. No doubleheaders.
  5. Three games shared with either ABS-CBN or ABS-CBN Sports+Action (Heat/Hornets on April 21, Raptors/Pacers on April 22, Hawks/Celtics on April 23).

This means that viewers on BTV will have to endure watching less popular teams such as the Raptors, Hornets and Pacers on a regular basis rather than the more marquee ones like the Warriors, Spurs and Cavaliers. So much for maintaining balance of coverage.

Even worse for the network is the lack of game coverage on select playdates. That will be the case tomorrow, as the NBA did not assign one game for BTV.

So what was left for BTV to do? They have no choice but to air the postgame edition of NBA Gametime, then replay it over and over again until the next game concludes.

Very unfortunate indeed. And that has been the case for the past few years.

Regardless of the expected negative reaction, it was and always will be the NBA’s decision to assign these games, so there’s no need to complain on it. That said, subscribing to both NBA Premium and Fox Sports Philippines is necessary to everyone who can’t stand BTV’s coverage.

If not, just endure the Taglish coverage of ABS-CBN Sports for this year’s playoffs. Good luck with that.

 

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

NCAA March Madness Belatedly Returns to Solar Sports, BTV

There will be US NCAA March Madness in the Philippines after all.

This weekend, Solar Sports and Basketball TV will join forces to cover Sunday’s Final Four and Tuesday’s National Championship of the US NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. Sunday’s games are as follows:

  • Villanova vs. Oklahoma (6:00 a.m. live on Solar Sports and Basketball TV)
  • Syracuse vs. North Carolina (8:45 a.m. live on Solar Sports and 10:30 a.m. delayed broadcast on Basketball TV)

The winners of the above games will face off in Tuesday’s National Championship. It will take place at 8:00 a.m. live on Solar Sports and Basketball TV.

This marks the return of the NCAA tournament to the Solar networks for the first time since 2013. Unfortunately, the return of March Madness to Solar was somewhat belated, due to a lack of interest from various networks.

Sports5, the rightsholder of the last two US NCAA March Madness tournaments, decided to back out owing to cost-cutting measures and the yearly observance of Holy Week. Fox Sports Philippines, who covers conference college tournaments, also did not express interest, and neither did ABS-CBN Sports due to its focus on the UAAP.

With no other options, Solar Sports decided to step in, but their involvement came way too late. As a result, they missed out covering the preliminaries, from the First Four to the Elite Eight.

Still, as far as Solar is concerned, it’s better late than never. After all, March Madness is considered a must-watch event, even if a few Filipinos religiously follow the tournament.

It remains to be seen whether or not Solar will be willing to cover another year or two of March Madness. But hopefully, once they express interest again, the coverage won’t be just the Final Four and the National Championship, but also the First Four, the rounds of 64 and 32, the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight, for the full March Madness experience.

Good luck.

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