Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Thoughts on U.S. NCAA College Basketball on ESPN5

ESPN5 will cover some of the U.S. NCAA intra and interconference games this season, and they will also air March Madness in March 2018. (Photo credit: National Collegiate Athletic Association)

The NBA may still be the most popular global basketball league for Filipinos, but ESPN5 is looking to change that perspective.

When TV5 and ESPN joined forces to establish ESPN5 last month, one of the things that they addressed is the lack of serious attention towards U.S. college basketball in the Philippines. While TV5 has been able to broadcast the March Madness portion of U.S. NCAA basketball in recent years, regular season coverage was only restricted to obscure networks such as All-Sports Network (now Sports Illustrated Asia).

That changed last Wednesday when ESPN5 began to air intra and inter-conference games of the U.S. NCAA Division I basketball season. Weekly doubleheaders are currently aired, live or delayed, starting at 8:00 a.m. on days where the NFL is not aired, and the frequency is expected to increase once the NFL season ends.

Even though the U.S. NCAA is expected to provide a boost to ESPN5, there are still some doubts as to whether or not this league will thrive among Filipino basketball fans. Here are some questions that may test the Filipino’s knowledge of the U.S. NCAA.

  1. Do they know some of these up-and-coming U.S. college basketball stars (e.g. Marvin Bagley)?
  2. Do they know top rivalries such as Duke vs. North Carolina and Kentucky vs. Louisville?
  3. Do they know the rules of the U.S. NCAA which is drastically different from the NBA and FIBA?
  4. Do they know each college and university’s nicknames, colors, cultures and traditions?
  5. Do they have the patience and time to even care about U.S. college basketball?

That said, it will not be easy for ESPN5 to promote U.S. NCAA basketball despite the Filipinos’ love of the game. Much like the NBA, the PBA and even local college hoops such as the UAAP and the NCAA, expect plenty of growing pains before the U.S. NCAA becomes embedded in every Filipino basketball fan.

But does ESPN5 have plenty of time and money to do so? Considering the limits of its licensing deal with TV5, not to mention the network’s poor reach, they really need all the time and power in the world to cultivate the U.S. NCAA into a part of Filipino basketball culture.

Oh well. In any case, let’s give ESPN5 the best of luck with the U.S. NCAA because it is going to be a rough ride ahead.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Will March Madness Be Aired on BTV?

So far, Basketball TV has not aired any U.S. NCAA college basketball game this year. As a result, the upcoming broadcast of March Madness on that station remains uncertain.

It’s already the fourth month of the college basketball season in the United States, and yet Basketball TV in the Philippines has not aired any game of the U.S. NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball conference tournaments. Now the question is: Will March Madness be aired on BTV?

In previous years, BTV aired select games of the U.S. NCAA conference tournaments, mostly coming from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). BTV also aired select games of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, including all of the Elite Eight, Final Four and the Championship rounds, as part of ‘March Madness on BTV’. Its commitment to the NCAA attracted some NBA fans who looked forward to watch some of the most hyped NBA prospects in action.

However, contrary to the inclusion of the Louisville Cardinals’ championship victory on its station ID, BTV has not been able to broadcast any U.S. NCAA game this year. A lot of basketball fans were looking forward to watch future stars such as Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker play, and BTV is surely expected to give college basketball fans what they want to see. Unfortunately, that was not the case this year.

If Basketball TV decides not to pursue anymore its broadcast of March Madness, let alone the entire NCAA college basketball season, it will be a huge loss to the network. They already lost the rights to the Spanish Liga ACB this year, leaving them with only the NBA, Euroleague, NBA D-League, FIBA Basketball and local tournaments such as the SBP-Passerelle as their primary outlets. Losing the US NCAA will definitely be demoralizing, and more importantly, college basketball fans will not be happy about it.

It remains to be seen if March Madness will be picked up on another network. For now, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and other future NBA stars will not have any airtime on any station in the Philippines this year.

UPDATE: Sports5 executive and Gilas head coach Chot Reyes tweeted today that March Madness or the US NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will be seen on TV5 this March. The coverage will likely involve sister stations AksyonTV and HYPER. More information on this event coming soon. As for Basketball TV, they should start editing their station ID now that March Madness is out of the network.

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