cable TV, entertainment, movies, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, Sports, television

Philippine Cable and Digital Channels Face Issue of Redundancy

Hero is one of several cable channels in the Philippines that was shut down this year due to redundancy in content. (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

Redundancy has become a common theme for cable and digital channels in the Philippines.

In the first half of 2018 alone, viewers witnessed a closure of numerous cable channels in the country. On the local side of the spectrum, there was Hero, TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel, CT and 2nd Avenue, and on the international front there was Toonami.

There were also some rebrandings and resurrections of several channels as well. CPI made LIGA the second coming of Balls in time for the FIFA World Cup (replacing ARC, TAG and Hero in the process) while rebranding Lifestyle into Metro Channel, and then the MVP Group converted Bloomberg Philippines into One News.

So why do these things happen to our beloved cable and digital channels? The most cited reason is financial constraints, but it goes deeper than that.

When two channels air similar content with one another, redundancy happens. This is exactly the case that befell the likes of Hero, TAG, CT, 2nd Avenue and Toonami because they feature similar themes and genres with one or several channels.

Hero and Toonami, for example, became victims of cord-cutters and other channels such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, AniPlus, Animax and even Yey!, which show some anime and action series as well. Same with CT and 2nd Avenue who share some of the programming with sister channels Jack TV and ETC.

Going further back, CPI shut down Velvet in 2014 and moved some of its content over to Lifestyle. Four years later, Lifestyle was rebranded into Metro Channel and is now essentially a second coming of Velvet.

There is also LIGA, which was launched for the FIFA World Cup but is expected to face similar redundancy issues as Balls since its only other source of content are events that air on ABS-CBN S+A. Finally, the rebrand from Bloomberg Philippines to One News has made AksyonTV (a former news channel-turned-T5N clone) redundant, something the MVP Group must address moving forward.

However, redundancy is not limited to cable channels alone. Yey!, for example, has a movie block called ‘Kid Sine’, but some of the films shown here are also aired on sister channel CineMo (under the CineFantasya and CineKomedya blocks).

Yey! also airs reruns of ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids’ while CineMo rebroadcasts ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Bagani’ on weekends. Such reruns should have been exclusive to Jeepney TV.

These are just some of the examples that face cable and digital channels today. Considering the competitive nature of this business, trying to stay unique and distinct in terms of content is not as easy as it looks.

So the best that these channels can do right now is to remain innovative and wide-eyed to the audience while keeping themselves afloat. This juggling act may be difficult, but when done properly, they can stay on the air for a long period of time.

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CT Signs Off, Plus Dream Satellite TV Ends Service

Cable and satellite subscribers in the Philippines received some bad news to end 2017.

CT No More

At midnight of January 1st, Solar Entertainment-owned CT permanently signed off after six years on air. Its closure was due to low ratings and redundancy of its programming.

CT initially launched on the small screen as CHASE on December 21, 2011. The channel was then renamed twice in its run, first as Jack City and then to CT.

CT was first seen on free TV for a few years when Solar partnered with BEAM Channel 31 to carry the channel. That partnership ended in 2014 when BEAM decided to prioritize its growing number of digital channels, leading to Solar relegating CT to cable and satellite partners.

CT took a big hit in 2017 when Solar became involved in a carriage dispute with SkyCable regarding NBA broadcast rights. Consequently, CT became one of the few Solar entities dropped by SkyCable amid the controversy.

Following its closure, some of CT’s programs were moved to either ETC, 2nd Avenue or Jack TV.

Dream Shuts Down

Also at midnight of January 1st, subscribers of Dream Satellite TV were stunned to see the pioneering direct-to-home satellite television service cease its operations. Here is the statement of Dream with regards to the discontinuation of their service.

Dream Satellite TV was initially launched on April 22, 2001. It made Philippine television history as the first to offer direct-to-home satellite television subscription to its customers.

Unfortunately, Dream encountered numerous problems from the get-go. Despite gaining around 100,000 subscribers, the company faced mounting debts owing to lack of revenue and unpaid fees to other companies.

To make matters worse, newer satellite subscription services such as Cignal, Sky Direct and G Sat began to emerge from the scene. And with Dream offering an inferior channel lineup compared to its younger competitors, it had no chance of survival.

The good news for Dream’s displaced subscribers is that they may have the option to switch to any of the aforementioned satellite or cable TV services. The bad news though is that they need to shell out lots of money to switch to another provider, unless each of them will offer a compensation deal.

ABS-CBN sister company Creative Programs Inc. also announced that some of its channels will close shop this month. For more on this developing story, stay tuned on From the Tube this January.

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

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, Part 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.

The Death of German Moreno

On January 8, the whole Filipino entertainment industry was stunned with the passing of German Moreno. The veteran host, actor and entertainer was best known for his distinguished work with up-and-coming stars on ‘That’s Entertainment’, as well as a near two-decade run hosting the Saturday late night show ‘Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman’.

The death of Kuya Germs also ended an era for late-night variety shows on Philippine television, as ‘Walang Tulugan’ signed off for good on February 13. Despite that, the legacy of Kuya Germs lives on with the Eastwood City Walk of Fame, which inducted new members late this year.

Other notable showbiz personalities who died this year include directors Wenn Deramas and Francis Pasion, actors Lilia Cuntapay, Joy Viado and Dick Israel, and singer Blakdyak.

Encantadia Returns

On July 18, GMA brought back the popular fantaserye ‘Encantadia’, featuring a rehashed storyline of the original 2005 series. The new iteration stars Glaiza de Castro, Gabbi Garcia, Sanya Lopez and Kylie Padilla, who play the roles of Pirena, Alena, Danaya and Amihan respectively.

Unfortunately, despite the hefty expenses that GMA spent for this version of ‘Encantadia’, the series failed to make an impact. In the national Kantar ratings, ‘Encantadia’ regularly fell by double digits to ‘Ang Probinsyano’, and the high expectations that came with it dissipated.

‘Encantadia’ is not the only primetime problem that GMA faced this year, however, as this next entry shows.

The Alyas Robin Hood-Arrow Controversy

When posters and teasers for ‘Alyas Robin Hood’ were first released, many felt the series was a ripoff of ‘Arrow’, with lead star Stephen Amell even going as far as sharing the clip with a ‘flushed-face’ emoji. However, creative consultant Suzette Doctolero made it clear that ‘Alyas Robin Hood’ and ‘Arrow’ were both based on the Robin Hood folklore.

Despite the controversial issues, ‘Alyas Robin Hood’ was given the go-signal by GMA to air starting September 19. While the series came out flying in its first few weeks, rival series ‘Magpahanggang Wakas’ soon pulled away, with some disgruntled viewers choosing to watch either the Tagalized ‘Arrow’ on TV5, or the English dub on Jack TV.

‘Alyas Robin Hood’ did have a highly publicized scene with the bikini showdown involving Sarri (Megan Young) and Venus (Andrea Torres), which should soften the blow of its controversial start.

The 25th Anniversary of Maalaala Mo Kaya

The first episode of ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’ was aired on May 15, 1991. Twenty-five years later, the program continues to touch the lives of others thanks to a letter read by Charo Santos-Concio, and scenes that can make people shed tears with each episode.

This year, as part of its silver anniversary celebration, ABS-CBN launched a commemorative website for ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’, a nationwide and worldwide tour, and an initiative for people to send in their life stories via a letter or a short-form video. As for the show’s ratings this year, it continues to thwart the challenges of its long-running rival, GMA’s ‘Magpakailanman’.

One can only hope that ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’ will continue to air beyond this year, as its legacy and enduring success stands the test of time.

Ang Probinsyano and Doble Kara Celebrate Their First Anniversary

But perhaps the biggest headline of 2016 belongs to both Coco Martin and Julia Montes. Their respective shows, ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Doble Kara’, reached the one-year milestone within a month of each other.

Both ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Doble Kara’ continue to lead the way in their respective timeslots. The former is currently the most-watched primetime show in the country, while the latter is the most-watched post-noontime show.

How much longer will they stay on the air remains to be seen, but as they proceed into 2017, expect ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Doble Kara’ to remain a dominant force in the primetime and afternoon slots respectively.

Honorable Mentions

  1. ‘The World Tonight’ celebrates its 50th year.
  2. Power Duo wins ‘Pilipinas Got Talent’ season 5.
  3. Joshua Oliveros wins ‘The Voice Kids’ season 3.
  4. ‘Naku Boss Ko’ mini-series and PiliPinas Debates leading up to the 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections.
  5. ANC and DZMM’s respective 20th and 30th anniversaries.

It was indeed an eventful 2016 in the world of Philippine media. Expect bigger things to come this 2017 as From the Tube continues to document the latest events in television and radio in the Philippines.

Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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