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

No NFL on Solar Sports Again

The recent Super Bowl was aired on Solar Sports last February, but despite the opening of the new NFL season, no live games were being aired on the said network.

If you were a fan of the National Football League, you may remember that Solar Sports aired both the conference championship games and the Super Bowl early this year. However, as the new NFL season got underway this week, there was no sign of NFL programming on the Solar Sports channel.

As many of you know, the NFL has been aired exclusively in the Philippines via the All Sports Network (ASN), which unfortunately is exclusive through SkyCable and can only be unlocked if subscribers are able to afford more expensive packages. With American football fans craving and asking for a more affordable viewing choice, the Solar Entertainment management caved in to their demands and aired the final three NFL games of the 2012 season through Solar Sports. I thought they were on their way to airing NFL games for the 2013 season. However, they decided that these will be the last NFL games ever seen on a more affordable channel for the forseeable future, owing to the lucrative costs and low viewership numbers.

If low viewership numbers were to be considered, then the Solar management were pretty much correct in deferring themselves from airing the NFL. However, Fox Sports Asia continues to air Major League Baseball games despite the fact that a few people watch baseball in the Philippines. If Fox had their way, they would have stopped airing baseball games in favor of a more exclusive cable network. At the moment the most popular team sports in the Philippines are basketball, volleyball and soccer, owing to the recent success of the Gilas and Azkals national teams, as well as the local leagues established in Metro Manila (e.g. PBA, UAAP, NCAA). The popularity and loyal fanbase of these sports are the reasons why the likes of Solar, ABS-CBN, and TV5 continue to air these sports on a frequent basis.

The NFL is undoubtedly the most-watched league in the United States after the MLB. However its global popularity is limited due to the sport’s physical nature, lack of foreign players and high expenses of funding an American football team, which is why the NFL is taking baby steps in extending its fanbase beyond the United States. Despite their efforts, it may take a while before they can finally establish a foothold in the world of sports. Meanwhile only a few viewers can afford watching the NFL on the All Sports Network, hence the future of the sport on a more affordable outfit remains uncertain.

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