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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news, Philippines, Sports, television

Dissecting the Filipino Sports News Landscape with Entry of SportsCenter Philippines

It has been an eventful month so far for sports news programs in the Philippines.

As of this week there are four weekday sports news programs that currently air on Philippine television. These include:

  1. The Score (ABS-CBN S+A) – anchored by TJ Manotoc
  2. Sports Desk (CNN Philippines) – morning edition anchored by Andrei Felix, evening editions anchored by Mico Halili
  3. Gametime (ABS-CBN News Channel) – anchored by Migs Bustos
  4. PTV Sports (People’s Television Network) – anchored by Dennis Principe, Meg Siozon, Angel Atienza and Arianne Mallare

On Sunday, December 17, a fifth program will emerge. As part of ESPN’s new deal with TV5, the network will officially premiere its version of ‘SportsCenter’, to be anchored by Aaron Atayde and Lia Cruz.

Before viewers can get excited about ‘SportsCenter Philippines’, here is a summary of how each current program brings to the table. These are ranked according to quality and depth.

Sports Desk

A holdover from Solar News Channel era, CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’ has by far the best content of sports news that is to offer. The program is not shy to tackle all the sports news that people should know, whether it is the UAAP, the PBA or even other local and international sports.

It also helps that it airs three times a day, at 11:00 a.m., 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on weekdays. However, with news of Mico Halili potentially departing CNN Philippines for perhaps a full-time role as a commentator with ABS-CBN Sports, can the show continue to deliver with regular substitute Paolo del Rosario?

PTV Sports

This program has been in and out of PTV-4’s lineup in recent years (remember Snow Badua?), but its latest iteration is simply a straight-up summary of the whole day’s worth of sports news. There are a few interviews here and there but other than that, they are more into quick bursts of reports.

However, as PTV-4 is a government station, there is a tendency for the program to be preempted whenever President Rodrigo Duterte makes an appearance on national television. Still, when the show does air, expect plenty of juice extracted in each report.

Gametime/The Score

Both shows are currently aired on ABS-CBN sister channels: ‘Gametime’ on ANC and ‘The Score’ on S+A. Unfortunately, they do not offer much in terms of sports news as they merely focus on sporting events currently handled by ABS-CBN Sports (e.g. UAAP, NCAA, NBA, ABL), not to mention they do not usually air live.

For those who seek a greater scope into sports news (albeit on a weekly basis), there is ‘Hardball’ on ANC and ‘Fastbreak’ on DZMM. It’s sad to say that both ‘Gametime’ and ‘The Score’ are a disappointment since ABS-CBN treated them like a showbiz news program that is biased towards a particular network’s artists.

So what expectations do people have for ‘SportsCenter Philippines’? For one, the show will premiere on a Sunday (a weekend no less) and it is assumed that the program will air seven days a week as opposed to a mere weekday airing that other shows do.

Also, with TV5 possibly rebranding into a full-on sports network as ESPN5, the network is expected to highlight ‘SportsCenter Philippines’ as its centerpiece program with all the sports news that people should know. That said, it will be interesting to see how this new player fares amid a crowd of sports-hungry fans.

Good luck to ESPN5. As for its competitors, there is no way to go but up.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Sports360 Needs a Reformat

With the UFC essentially taking over late Sunday nights, TV5 needs to find a way to make ‘Sports360’ useful again. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

The past two months were not kind to TV5’s sports-oriented show ‘Sports360’.

Since the UFC became a property of Sports5 this year, ‘Sports360’ has been preempted regularly in favor of UFC events. With the show close to becoming an afterthought, its future was thrown into question.

As TV5’s sports-oriented talk show, it is the job of ‘Sports360’ to give Kapatid sports fans the latest updates on a variety of sporting events every week. But its constant preemptions made it difficult to stay in tune with the ever-changing sports landscape.

Look at the other sports talk shows in the country (e.g. ANC’s ‘Hardball’, ABS-CBN Sports+Action’s ‘The Score’, and CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’). While they are not here to provide some entertainment (as ‘Sports360’ usually does), at least they regularly provide updates in the world of sports to the avid fan.

This is a dilemma that the new Sports5 head Patricia Bermudez-Hizon must face. After all, they are the so-called ‘Olympic network’ (they will broadcast the 2016 Summer Olympics later this year), and if they want to live to that billing, they need to make ‘Sports360’ a constant presence on the network.

One thing they would like to see is the conversion of ‘Sports360’ into a daily sports talk show, with less focus on entertainment and more on analysis and news reporting. The current hosts may be experienced on-air talent for various Sports5 programming, but to keep the show running, they need to emulate either Mico Halili or TJ Manotoc to become useful.

Since TV5 is too loaded programming-wise, the best possible channel for ‘Sports360’ would be AksyonTV, whose sports-centric format makes it a perfect fit (signal issues notwithstanding). Another option would be HYPER, but this may not please SkyCable subscribers.

In any case, TV5 must address the fate of ‘Sports360’ as soon as possible. They don’t want to turn the show into a liability, so they need to act accordingly and turn the show into something more reliable to their viewers.

It’s up to TV5 to save ‘Sports360’. Good luck.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

PBA’s Inconsistent Broadcasting Crews in the Finals

Big games such as the PBA Finals need only the top broadcast team, but instead the league has suffered because of its broadcast partners’ constant shuffling of their announcing teams.

The PBA has had a long history of shuffling its broadcast crews during the Finals, and the 2013 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals is no exception. Some things do not work out for the better, and for the PBA and its broadcast partners, it may be a matter of time before deciding that only one broadcast team is enough to describe the action of every Finals game.

TV5’s coverage of the PBA currently has no de facto No. 1 or No. 2 broadcast team. Instead the network assigns a variety of play-by-play announcers, color analysts, sideline reporters and studio hosts to work every game, including the Finals. That constant shuffling leads me to these questions. Who is really the No. 1 play-by-play man, Magoo Marjon or Mico Halili? And who is really the No. 1 analyst, Jason Webb or Quinito Henson?

During ABS-CBN’s recent coverage of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Finals, they only used Boom Gonzalez and TJ Manotoc to work every game. The duo were also assigned to cover the recent NBA Finals locally. The usage of just one broadcast team in the Finals ensures a high quality, consistent and smooth description of the action as the games get tougher. Just ask the American announcers at every sport.

Only the top broadcast teams have the honor of calling the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup Finals and the NBA Finals. They were trained to call big games involving the great players, and their experiences at calling the game gave them the honor of being called up to announce a championship series. That is why the likes of Mike Breen, Joe Buck, Jim Nantz, Al Michaels and Mike Emrick have been so successful at their craft because they earned their stripes calling the game involving the best players and the best teams. And their broadcast partners in Jeff Van Gundy, Troy Aikman, Tim McCarver, Phil Simms, Cris Collinsworth and Eddie Olczyk proved capable of providing a deeper analysis of the game through their intuition and knowledge.

It is a different story though when it comes to TV5’s PBA Finals coverage. On some nights it would be Magoo Marjon and an assigned color man, other nights will see Mico Halili, Charlie Cuna or Rado Dimalibot work play-by-play with an assigned analyst. Even the sideline reporter and studio host assignments are a revolving door. Several of the personalities even play two different roles; Halili, for instance, worked as both a studio host and a play-by-play man. This is not the case in the United States, where the two roles are separate from each other.

TV5 has to make a decision on who is really the No. 1 broadcast team. Both Halili and Marjon have the capability to be the No. 1 guy, but in terms of experience and big-game minutes, I had to give it to Halili because of his extensive broadcast work. As for the analyst spot Henson should have been the man, but due to his part-time status and multiple roles, I had to give it to Jason Webb for his youth, exuberance and knowledge of the game. TV5 needs only ONE broadcast crew for the Finals, and the Halili-Webb partnership may be the needed answer.

The PBA needs to carefully handle its broadcasts. They have already suffered from TV5’s broadcasting issues prior to the Governors’ Cup, and now with the rigodon of personalities calling the Finals, it is clear that PBA’s television coverage is lacking in both identity and distinction, one that would put them at par with the UAAP coverage on ABS-CBN Sports.

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