Philippines, Sports, television

In 100 Words: Premier League, Serie A and La Liga on S+A

The month of August means a new season for football leagues in Europe.

With that, ABS-CBN’s S+A will pick up from where it left off last season with a slate of early-morning matches from England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A. The schedule of games this August are as follows.

Unfortunately, these games are only exclusive to S+A SD on channel 23. As for S+A HD, ABS-CBN has yet to determine substitute programming in lieu of its SD counterpart’s live football coverage.

This will be the second year that ABS-CBN Sports will carry the likes of the Premier League and La Liga. The network signed a deal with Hong Kong’s Triple CH last November to broadcast these popular European leagues on free TV in cooperation with beIN Sport.

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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

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

What Happened to Solar Sports?

In its heyday, Solar Sports aired several top-notch sports events familiar to Filipinos. Before Basketball TV and Balls came into the picture, Solar Sports was the major broadcaster of the NBA and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It also aired the WWE, major tennis tournaments, the La Liga and Bundesliga soccer matches, the NFL, and NASCAR racing. Now, what happened?

Looking at the entire repertoire of Solar Sports, it seems that they have eschewed airing the big events in favor of sports not familiar to Filipinos. While they still provide decently good sporting events like boxing, billiards and the PGA, ATP and WTA tours, Solar Sports now airs BWF badminton, FLW fishing, and Copa Libertadores soccer matches. Locally the network became the official coveror of Philippine Super Liga volleyball. And they also cover cockfighting and Jai Alai.

Having said that, Solar Sports has become a shell of its former self. While the loss of the NBA to BTV only gave basketball-crazy fans a favor, it is unacceptable to lose the UFC to ABS-CBN Sports, La Liga and Bundesliga to BeIN Sport, and the WWE to Fox Asia. And what were the replacements? Gambling-related sports, fishing, and badminton. This is not what Solar Sports used to air.

If Solar Sports can somehow bring its past glory back, they should start by acquiring more respectably familiar sports like college football and Major League Baseball. Cockfighting and Jai Alai have no place to this channel and should be left alone for a future gambling sports channel. And finally, Solar Sports should change its logo and readopt the ‘Sports Plus’ identity of several years ago.

What used to be ‘Our Sports Channel’ is now a distant memory. Solar Sports needs a change, and it should start soon.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Goodbye AKTV

After nearly two years on air, AKTV signs off for good. But problems within TV5’s sports division continue to persist today. (Logo courtesy of ABC Development Corporation)

On May 31, 2013, the AKTV on IBC 13 block aired for the last time. As reported over a month ago, Mediaquest has decided not to renew the blocktime contract with IBC 13, which expired in May. With AKTV ceasing to exist, Sports5‘s properties are being moved to AksyonTV and Hyper starting this month.

The AKTV programming block made its rousing debut in August 2011 with the Smart All-Star Ultimate Challenge, pitting the Gilas national team and an all-PBA selection against NBA players led by Kobe Bryant. In October, AKTV became the home of the PBA, airing all of its games for the next two years. Over the next few months, AKTV aired sports events like soccer’s United Football LeaguePremier League, La Liga and Bundesliga, the 2012 London Olympic Games, the NCAA, PBA D-League and professional boxing, among others. However, mounting costs, coupled with lack of profits, forced TV5 management not to renew its block-time agreement after two years.

The signs that AKTV’s days were numbered showed after the PBA allowed to air the recently concluded Commissioner’s Cup Final on TV5. In addition, IBC decided to reduce AKTV’s programming hours during the weekends. Originally the block aired for 12 hours on weekends, but was reduced to six hours in the block’s final few months. As AKTV was winding down, Mediaquest was scrambling to find a new network for its UFL and incoming NCAA coverage, which AksyonTV was able to oblige.

AksyonTV is no stranger to airing sports coverage. In its infancy, it aired a boxing match featuring Filipina Ana Julaton, but has since deferred from airing further sports in favor of news and public affairs. However, with AKTV no longer in the equation, AksyonTV had no other choice but to air the UFL, the PBA D-League and the upcoming NCAA season.

The demise of AKTV exposed TV5’s budgetary deficiencies. By committing too much on several sports properties without giving enough time to tinker and experiment, they lost so much money, and by the time the deal expired, they scrambled to get their sports properties on another channel. The 2012 London Olympics was a broadcasting failure, both in expenses and revenue. Also their more recent venture with the NCAA had an adverse effect on its budget. The ‘AKTV Center’ before PBA games, though well-viewed, was unnecessary. Perhaps the network’s owner Manny V. Pangilinan had a full pocket that he spent lavishly on it, without realizing how to conserve them. With all that in mind, it is clear that TV5 wants to be a cut above the rest, at par with competitors ABS-CBN and GMA 7. But instead their free-spending ways betrayed them in the end.

I already wrote about GMA 7’s lack of a sports division before. Perhaps GMA should step up already. Then again, neither will GMA 7’s ownership be serious enough to acquire the sports properties that TV5 has. Until then, TV5 should remain committed with what they have now, regardless of how their budget would play a role. Otherwise it will be a long season for the still-fledgling network.

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