Philippines, Sports, television

Barely Recognizable: PBA News Seldom Mentioned in Other Networks

Hardly mentioned: News surrounding the PBA is a seldom occurrence in ABS-CBN and GMA newscasts. (Photo credit: Philippine Basketball Association)

News surrounding the Philippine Basketball Association is hard to come by these days.

Once one of the Philippines’ national pastimes, the league has fallen on hard times in recent years due to a bevy of controversies. Nowadays, the PBA is barely mentioned at all in  TV networks outside ESPN5, a byproduct of declining interest that has alarmed the league of late.

One network, in particular, has repeatedly shunned the PBA when it comes to sports news. Enter ABS-CBN and its family of networks.

In ABS-CBN’s most recent year-end sports report, there was not even a single mention about the PBA. The network, in particular, failed to account the 50,000 or so crowd that saw Barangay Ginebra San Miguel win Game 7 of the Governors’ Cup finals over the Meralco Bolts, or the two championships won by the San Miguel Beermen last season, or the Christian Standhardinger-Chito Narvasa controversy.

It has been a pattern that is constant for the past several years. Instead of the PBA, ABS-CBN’s TV newscasts focused more on its sports properties such as the UAAP, NCAA, NBA and ABL, as well as national teams such as the Gilas basketball team and the Azkals football team.

In fairness, ANC’s Hardball, DZMM’s Fastbreak and ABS-CBN’s sports and news websites always make up for the newscasts’ oversight by mentioning and even talking about the PBA in greater detail. But even that is not enough to slap some sense in ABS-CBN’s mindset.

Now what about GMA? While they also report about the PBA on their news websites, they also do not mention the league’s news on their newscasts, and worse, they barely care about the world of sports at all since they do not even have a sports division.

Which leaves us to the only two networks that do take a look at the PBA on a regular basis: PTV-4’s ‘PTV Sports’ and CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’. Much like the PBA, they are hardly recognizable in the viewers’ consciousness, but at least they are doing their best to cover the league’s latest news with consistency and detail.

But for the two network giants in South Triangle, not mentioning the PBA on television is an disgrace to the league. Yes its popularity may have slipped of late due to these internal issues, but the PBA is still an important part of the Filipino sporting landscape and something needs to be done to rekindle the league’s interests.

action, cable TV, digital television, satellite TV, television

CT Signs Off, Plus Dream Satellite TV Ends Service

Cable and satellite subscribers in the Philippines received some bad news to end 2017.

CT No More

At midnight of January 1st, Solar Entertainment-owned CT permanently signed off after six years on air. Its closure was due to low ratings and redundancy of its programming.

CT initially launched on the small screen as CHASE on December 21, 2011. The channel was then renamed twice in its run, first as Jack City and then to CT.

CT was first seen on free TV for a few years when Solar partnered with BEAM Channel 31 to carry the channel. That partnership ended in 2014 when BEAM decided to prioritize its growing number of digital channels, leading to Solar relegating CT to cable and satellite partners.

CT took a big hit in 2017 when Solar became involved in a carriage dispute with SkyCable regarding NBA broadcast rights. Consequently, CT became one of the few Solar entities dropped by SkyCable amid the controversy.

Following its closure, some of CT’s programs were moved to either ETC, 2nd Avenue or Jack TV.

Dream Shuts Down

Also at midnight of January 1st, subscribers of Dream Satellite TV were stunned to see the pioneering direct-to-home satellite television service cease its operations. Here is the statement of Dream with regards to the discontinuation of their service.

Dream Satellite TV was initially launched on April 22, 2001. It made Philippine television history as the first to offer direct-to-home satellite television subscription to its customers.

Unfortunately, Dream encountered numerous problems from the get-go. Despite gaining around 100,000 subscribers, the company faced mounting debts owing to lack of revenue and unpaid fees to other companies.

To make matters worse, newer satellite subscription services such as Cignal, Sky Direct and G Sat began to emerge from the scene. And with Dream offering an inferior channel lineup compared to its younger competitors, it had no chance of survival.

The good news for Dream’s displaced subscribers is that they may have the option to switch to any of the aforementioned satellite or cable TV services. The bad news though is that they need to shell out lots of money to switch to another provider, unless each of them will offer a compensation deal.

ABS-CBN sister company Creative Programs Inc. also announced that some of its channels will close shop this month. For more on this developing story, stay tuned on From the Tube this January.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

Philippines, Sports, television, United States

A Bilingual NBA Finals on ABS-CBN Sports

English or Filipino?

That has been a long-standing dilemma for NBA fans whenever the Finals begin. For the past several years, they have two options to choose from: free TV NBA Finals coverage featuring local commentators in the Filipino language, or cable TV NBA Finals coverage featuring American commentators in the English language.

This year is different, however.

For the 2017 NBA Finals, ABS-CBN decided to air every game live on its flagship Channel 2. As always, the broadcast on Channel 2 features Filipino-language commentary, led by Boom Gonzalez and TJ Manotoc who were assigned on-site.

But that’s not where it all ended. The network also elected to air the Finals live on S+A channel 23 as well, albeit with the use of American commentators in the English language.

The main reason behind this bilingual simulcast of the finals is simple: to cater to two types of NBA fans. After all, there are some fans who like the Filipino broadcast while others choose to listen to the more natural American broadcast.

The decision also stems from the controversy surrounding SkyCable and Solar Entertainment. Thanks to the sudden pullout of the latter’s Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV from SkyCable’s lineup, ABS-CBN has no choice but to air the English commentary of the Finals on S+A to benefit disgruntled subscribers.

However, for those who have Cignal and Cablelink in their service, there is no need to worry. Solar Entertainment’s Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV are also covering the NBA Finals in its original English form.

As of June 6, the Golden State Warriors are leading the Cleveland Cavaliers 2-0 in the 2017 NBA Finals. The Warriors are also undefeated in postseason play, with 14 wins through its 14 games.

Games 3 and 4 will take place this Thursday and Saturday respectively in Cleveland. If necessary, Game 5 (at Golden State) will be next Tuesday, Game 6 (at Cleveland) on June 16 and Game 7 (at Golden State) on June 19.