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Interaksyon.com to Close Operations This March, But Wait…

Shutdown or merger: The fate of InterAksyon.com is currently being debated between TV5 and PhilStar management. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

Another online news outlet is in the headlines, but for a different reason.

Newsbytes.ph reported that Interaksyon.com, the online news website of TV5, will shut down its operations later this year. This comes just as news of competitor Rappler’s revocation of registration and ongoing legal battle grip the entire nation.

According to editor-in-chief Roby Alampay, Interkasyon.com will end its run in March and all of its digital news properties will be consolidated to News5.com.ph. This consolidation will also lead to a rationalization of manpower, which means that Interaksyon.com’s 20 regular employees may be given their walking papers.

However, a report by The Philippine Star later claimed that Mediaquest is studying its options for the future of Interaksyon.com, according to PhilStar Global CEO Kevin Belmonte. Mediaquest CEO Ray Espinosa also added that there is a possibility that Interaksyon.com would continue as part of PhilStar Global while they “determine the feasibility of implementing this plan in a cost efficient manner”.

This latest news regarding Interaksyon.com is indicative of TV5’s ongoing transformation. Its embattled news division, in particular, is in hot water for the loss of manpower and programming, and while it is true that declining revenue and streamlining of operations are the reasons behind these moves, watching News5 go down in flames is not a good sight for the Philippine media community.

And with TV5 joining forces with ESPN for its sports content, it became clear that News5 is now the odd one out. Dissolving this division may be the next best thing, but as far as its remaining staff are concerned, they would rather continue the fight than concede to reality.

Regardless of the decision, one can only hope that TV5, Mediaquest and The Philippine Star will do the right thing when it comes to confirming the fate of Interaksyon.com. Best of luck to the braintrust of each outfit, this is worth the wait.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Remembering the NCAA on TV5

Adios, NCAA on TV5.

In one month, the 91st season of the NCAA will get underway. The league will have a new (or old) media partner going forward, as they joined forces with ABS-CBN Sports beginning this season.

But before we look ahead to the league’s return to the Kapamilya group, let us reflect on the three-year relationship between the NCAA and TV5.

Ambitious Beginnings

The NCAA joined forces with Sports5 prior to Season 88. The games were first broadcast on the AKTV on IBC-13 block, with a Monday-Thursday-Saturday schedule and a 4:00 p.m. start time.

The league also held a pair of provincial playdates in an effort to attract new fans. But to fans’ dismay, neither of the out-of-town games were aired on AKTV, a predicament that continued the next season with AksyonTV.

AKTV also employed full-time sideline reporters as opposed to student representatives/OJTs used by ABS-CBN Sports. They also deviated from ABS-CBN’s practice of showing cheering squads at halftime, and instead used the time to read netizens’ tweets and talk to fans of opposing schools.

And of course, a new partner means a new broadcast staff. Sports5 elected to employ a younger cast of announcers, as opposed to a more veteran-laden team during the ABS-CBN era, in hopes of connecting to younger fans.

Brewing Troubles and Change of Stations

The first sign of trouble for the NCAA on Sports5 took place in the Season 88 Finals. Game 3 of the San Beda-Letran series was aired on TV5 but on a more unfavorable early afternoon slot, a scenario that was repeated in the following year’s finals between the same two teams.

Then in May 2013, Mediaquest and TV5 decided to end their blocktime deal with IBC-13. This forced Sports5 to move the league’s games to AksyonTV, a decision that didn’t sit well with the viewers due to the station’s poor reach and accessibility.

Worse, the lack of an online livestreaming platform only exacerbated the situation, especially during heavily prioritized live news events such as the State of the Nation Address. Although Sports5 managed to provide a livestreaming platform by Season 90, the damage was already done at that point.

A Last-Ditch Effort By TV5

Season 90 saw a select number of games aired on the flagship TV5, in hopes of addressing the need for wider access. Still, a few games that ran overtime were cut off TV5 in favor of Aksyon Prime (a decision known as the ‘Heidi Moment’), something that was not experienced when ABS-CBN Sports (via Studio 23, now ABS-CBN Sports+Action) had the rights.

The TV5 games also featured the infamous Moneyball game that was first implemented during the network’s PBA coverage. The presence of Moneyball took away the school spirit aspect of the game, as it prevented the league’s fans from watching the performance of the cheering squads at halftime.

Even though TV5 aired a select number of games that season, AksyonTV still had a major presence on the NCAA coverage. The addition of TV5 did little to increase attention to the league’s games, despite a major promotional campaign that signified the NCAA as ‘Ang Larong Tunay’ (A True Game).

Aftermath

In the end, the ambitious plans of TV5 for the NCAA backfired. The demise of AKTV proved too much, as it affected whatever grand plans the Kapatid network has had in making the NCAA more competitive and attractive to viewers.

Promotion of the league was also a problem, as Sports5 continues to prioritize the PBA. Furthermore, the constant change in channels, along with the use of unorthodox gimmicks such as Moneyball, the lack of modern technologies, and the use of full-time reporters as opposed to student representatives, only hastened the decline.

The final straw for the NCAA on TV5 took place once their regular on-air announcers were elevated to the PBA. In hindsight, it was clear that TV5 has had enough; even though they tried to offer an extension, the NCAA felt the time to move on was now.

And so it did. From now on, it’s ABS-CBN Sports’ turn once more. And the NCAA couldn’t be happier.

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