Philippines, Sports, television

NAASCU Returns to BTV

Basketball TV is not giving up just yet.

Parent network Solar Entertainment announced that BTV will broadcast the upcoming National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) seniors basketball tournament starting tomorrow. A total of 16 schools will participate in the league’s 17th season, which will include newcomers Holy Angel University, De La Salle Araneta University and St. Francis of Assisi College.

Both Solar and the NAASCU first entered into a partnership last season that saw all games aired on BTV and Solar Sports. The 16th season saw Saint Clare College of Caloocan win both the seniors and juniors basketball tournaments.

But as they enter the second year of the deal, Solar and the NAASCU know that it will not be easy following up last season’s success. While last season saw more viewers tune in to NAASCU games, this season should see a significant reduction now that Solar controversially pulled its channels out of SkyCable last April.

There are also pressing concerns about Basketball TV’s commitment and ability to produce local basketball coverage on a regular basis. Back in February, they tried to follow up the NAASCU by airing the lone season of the NCRUCLAA basketball games, but the network backed out after only a month.

It also remains to be seen if Solar Sports will once again play backup to BTV for this season’s NAASCU tournament. As of today, the network not announced their plans to air the NAASCU basketball games.

With the loss of its biggest asset as well as criticism surrounding their non-NBA broadcasts, can Basketball TV and Solar hold on to their promise of delivering the best NAASCU coverage? It will be interesting to see how this season plays out.

The 17th season of the NAASCU opens tomorrow, with the seniors basketball doubleheaders airing at 3:00 p.m. weekly on Basketball TV.

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Philippines, Sports, television

ABS-CBN Sports: Basketball TV’s Only Hope

The loss of FIBA basketball and the abrupt cancellation of the NCRUCLAA coverage has hurt Basketball TV’s profile of late. (Logo courtesy of Solar Entertainment)

Basketball TV’s 10th year on the air has not been a smooth-sailing one.

The Solar Entertainment-owned network has seen plenty of losses in the last several months. Not only did it lose the FIBA basketball rights to Sports5, it also cut short its broadcast of the fledgling NCRUCLAA men’s basketball tournament a month into its maiden season.

On the positive side though, they managed to air an entire season’s worth of the NAASCU men’s basketball tournament while continuing its long and loyal commitment to the NBA and its related properties. Still, BTV’s increasing irrelevance has put a lot of pressure on Solar, and with the costs still growing, BTV’s days appear to be numbered.

There is a reason why BTV is known as ‘Basketball TV’: it is the home to a variety of basketball tournaments. While the network centers around the NBA, it also aired a number of other tournaments as well, such as the Euroleague, the U.S. NCAA March Madness, and local leagues such as the PBA and the defunct Philippine Basketball League.

However, as 2017 proved to be a poor year for both BTV and Solar, it is clear that the former needs a lot of help. At this point, a backup financier is all that BTV requires, and they can look no further than a fellow coveror of NBA games.

Back in 2011, ABS-CBN Sports signed a deal with the NBA to cover its games on free TV. Now the partnership between ABS-CBN and the NBA is six years strong, and they also expanded their scope online when ABS-CBN signed a contract with the NBA to operate the Filipino website of NBA.com.

ABS-CBN Sports also carry a wealth of experience covering local basketball. The network has existing deals with the UAAP and NCAA, and more recently, they began to broadcast the ASEAN Basketball League, along with grassroots basketball tournaments such as the NBTC and Slam Rising Stars competitions.

If Basketball TV wants to survive this cutthroat world of cable television, their only hope right now is to join forces with ABS-CBN Sports. With the latter’s experience and deep pockets, they could help BTV in any way, shape or form when it comes to providing top-notch basketball coverage.

It may take some time to materialize, but let’s face it, this is the only choice for BTV given their recent issues. That said, let’s just hope that Solar will be willing to allow rival ABS-CBN Sports to resuscitate BTV, and in doing so, alleviate the pressure of running a high-profile cable channel in the Philippines.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Solar Sports, BTV Cancel Airing of NCRUCLAA

A month after the season opened, Basketball TV and Solar Sports unexpectedly pulled the plug on the NCRUCLAA coverage. (Logos courtesy of the NCRUCLAA and Solar Entertainment)

A month after the season opened, Basketball TV and Solar Sports unexpectedly pulled the plug on the NCRUCLAA coverage. (Logos courtesy of the NCRUCLAA and Solar Entertainment)

The promising television coverage of the NCRUCLAA (National Capital Region Universities and Colleges of Luzon Athletic Association) came to an abrupt halt.

For some unknown reason, host networks Solar Sports and Basketball TV decided to stop airing the fledgling collegiate basketball league after only a month’s worth of coverage. No explanation was given with regards to the sudden cancellation, but a possible case of low funds may have come into play.

It can be recalled that the newly-established NCRUCLAA signed a television contract with Solar Entertainment in December of last year. The league, which consists of 16 member schools, opened its basketball season on January 17.

Both Solar Sports and Basketball TV tried its very best to seriously promote the NCRUCLAA. Unfortunately, the game’s delayed coverage and overwhelming amount of matches (quadruple-headers start at around 11:00 a.m.), lack of advertisers and conflicts with other programming took its toll, and by late February, both networks ceased airing the league’s games.

The issues of local basketball coverage is nothing new to Solar Entertainment. During their three seasons handling the PBA (2008-11), Solar lost a lot of money due to technical issues hounding their coverage of the league, and in their final season, they were forced to move to rival ABS-CBN’s Studio 23 following CS9’s rebrand to ETC.

Going further back, Solar also used to handle the defunct Philippine Basketball League for a few seasons. Unfortunately, the league’s internal issues affected both the coverage and the quality of the games, and the PBL soon disappeared by 2011.

While Solar did make amends when they aired NAASCU games without any incident last year, it was clear that the company can only go as far as Wilson Tieng can take them. Which leads to the abrupt cancellation of NCRUCLAA coverage, one that is once again giving Solar plenty of headaches.

That said, without the additional financial backing of rivals ABS-CBN Sports and Sports5, Solar Sports continues to find themselves in a predicament that is too steep to climb out. They may have had the privilege of covering NBA games and Manny Pacquiao fights, but local coverage-wise, they are still too far behind to make an impact.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Basketball TV Is Now a Poor Man’s NBA Premium

Basketball TV's growing emphasis on local leagues comes at a price, as TV5 plucked the FIBA tournaments (in particular Gilas Pilipinas) away from the network. (Photo credit: FIBA.com)

Basketball TV’s growing emphasis on local leagues comes at a price, as TV5 plucked the FIBA tournaments (in particular Gilas Pilipinas) away from the network. (Photo credit: FIBA.com)

There is a changing of the guard on Basketball TV.

Since its first broadcast in 2006, BTV has been the home for numerous top-notch basketball tournaments. Their flagship product is obviously the NBA, but the network has also aired a number of other tournaments, namely the U.S. NCAA, FIBA and the Euroleague.

However, a recent rebrand last year brought in some drastic changes to BTV’s image. Gone were the major global tournaments that made the network stand out, and in their place were local tournaments such as the NAASCU and the ongoing NCRUCLAA men’s basketball competitions.

The additions of the NAASCU and NCRUCLAA to BTV gave both leagues an outlet with which they can expose themselves to a local audience. But at what cost does a pair of not-so famous leagues come in exchange for more recognizable tournaments?

The loss of FIBA tournaments, in particular, should sting BTV a lot. After all, this is the very same station which brought the FIBA game to a local audience, particularly with the return to prominence of Gilas Pilipinas.

Unfortunately, as TV5 president and Gilas coach Chot Reyes decided to give his own network the exclusive rights to all FIBA basketball games, BTV can only watch helplessly as its second most recognizable product gets taken away by a rival outfit. Such a shame for Wilson Tieng and company.

With the loss of FIBA to TV5, Basketball TV’s only source of relevance now is the NBA. At this point, 80% of BTV’s programming consists of the NBA and its related properties such as the NBA D-League and the WNBA.

As for the remaining 20%, these are now allocated to the NAASCU, NCRUCLAA and other future local competitions. In essence, BTV has become a poor man’s NBA Premium based on these numbers.

The future of Basketball TV will depend on how Solar Entertainment can properly maintain the network. If they can no longer do so, perhaps NBA co-rightsholder ABS-CBN Sports can step in and give a helping hand to its troubled rival.

The BTV people knew had an impressively strong lineup. Now, after over a decade, it was nothing but a distant memory, even if the network decides to give local leagues a chance.

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FTT Year 2016 in Review: The 20 Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part III)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2017, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 20 moments that define the Philippine media this year.

If you missed out on Part I and Part II of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

Here is Part III of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

Pinoy Boyband Superstar Answers To the Top

Last year, GMA created its own reality talent show for up-and-coming Filipino boybands, ‘To the Top’. This year, ABS-CBN struck back by bringing the ‘La Banda’ franchise to the Philippines under the name ‘Pinoy Boyband Superstar’.

Unfortunately for GMA, the popularity of ‘Pinoy Boyband Superstar’ far exceeded ‘To the Top’. The former constantly gained ratings of 30% or better while airing at a more convenient timeslot of 6:50 p.m., whereas the latter only mustered around 7-8% ratings while airing at a not-so attractive timeslot of 9:45-10:00 p.m.

Despite the success of ‘Pinoy Boyband Superstar’, it remains to be seen if BoybandPH can become a more popular boyband than Top One Project ever was. That said, the key to both boybands at this point is to outsell each other in order to win the hearts of fans.

Delamar Leaves RX 93.1’s The Morning Rush

‘The Morning Rush’ on Monster RX 93.1 is an institution in Philippine FM radio, having aired continuously for over two decades. So when Delamar Arias decided to leave both the show and the station on July 29, listeners, or ‘rushers’, were stunned.

After all, Delamar, along with long-time partner Chico Garcia and recent addition Gino Quillamor, were instrumental in the show’s success, with the ‘Top 10’ segment becoming the most popular segment. Her departure left a glaring hole on ‘The Morning Rush’, one they have struggled to fill since.

Delamar was not the only high-profile departure from the station. A few weeks later, Bea Fabregas left RX to focus on hosting FOX Sports Philippines’ ‘Fox Sports Minute’ and ‘The GOAT’, while Karen Bordador was arrested for alleged drug possession and was de facto removed from the station.

The Launch of PBA Rush, Plus UFC on TV5 and Olympic Coverage

If Solar Entertainment has NBA Premium TV, then TV5 has its own channel for the PBA in PBA Rush. Launched prior to the 2016 Governors’ Cup, PBA Rush is considered the Filipino version of NBA TV, featuring live and archived PBA games plus special programs dedicated to the league.

The timing of PBA Rush’s launch couldn’t have come at an important time, as that year’s Governors’ Cup saw Barangay Ginebra San Miguel end an eight-year title drought at the expense of the Meralco Bolts. Ginebra’s win would have concluded PBA’s run with TV5, but instead the partnership between the two was renewed in time for the ongoing Philippine Cup.

TV5 also made a high-profile acquisition when it purchased the broadcast rights to the UFC, promising it to air live on its HYPER channel. Unfortunately, TV5’s coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics was a difficult one, as the network struggles to deal with its decline in programming quality.

Other Sports Stories on TV

ABS-CBN Sports replaced the UFC by focusing on local and regional mixed martial arts, namely the Alvin Aguilar-led URCC, and the Southeast Asia-based One Championship. They also brought in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) as part of its continued commitment to local and regional sports.

Solar Sports dabbled into collegiate basketball by airing the NAASCU, while IBC-13 and AksyonTV aired the UCBL and CESAFI tournaments respectively. However, the biggest draws remain the NCAA and the UAAP, where the San Beda Red Lions and the De La Salle Green Archers won their respective championships.

Finally, in women’s volleyball, ABS-CBN Sports acquired the rights to the Shakey’s V-League, beginning a contentious rivalry between the V-League and the TV5-aired Philippine SuperLiga.

Be My Lady Reigns, Ryzza Mae’s Run Ends

‘Be My Lady’, topbilled by real-life couple Erich Gonzales and Daniel Matsunaga,was the top draw at the pre-noontime slot for much of this year. Airing for 221 episodes from January 18 to November 25, the series earned ratings of nearly 20%, besting the competition in the process.

The aforementioned competition included a pair of shows starring Ryzza Mae Dizon: ‘Princess in the Palace’, and ‘Calle Siete’. But with Ryzza already entering the pre-teen stage of her life, it was clear that she was no longer the charmingly cute presence of years past.

In the end, TAPE decided to cease starring her on the pre-noontime slot beginning October 24, and gave the BAES (along with Taki Sato) of ‘Eat Bulaga’ a lead role in ‘TROPS’.

Part IV of this four-part series is coming up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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