cable TV, Philippines, Sports, television

In 150 Words: BTV, NBA Premium Return to SkyCable

Some good news await basketball fans in time for the new NBA season.

SkyCable announced Tuesday that Basketball TV and NBA Premium will be reinstated in their lineup effective immediately. In its statement, Sky said that they welcome this development as it is in keeping with the status quo order earlier issued by the court.

It can be recalled that both channels were abruptly shut down prior to the start of the 2017 NBA Playoffs due to legal issues between Solar and ABS-CBN regarding broadcast rights. Solar claimed that ABS-CBN owed them millions of pesos in unpaid carriage fees, and in response, SkyCable claimed to have paid said carriage fees as part of the licensing fee it rewarded to the NBA.

However, the reinstatement of Basketball TV and NBA Premium on Sky will only be temporary with the court decision on the matter still pending. For now, though, basketball fans should be more than happy to catch up with daily NBA action every morning on both channels.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Is UAAP Women’s Basketball Being Slighted by ABS-CBN Sports?

UAAP Season 81 is well underway.

But while the men’s basketball tournament always gets the attention of ABS-CBN Sports due to its popularity and appeal (that along with the eight courtside reporters for the season), the same cannot be said of the women’s side. There are three factors as to why UAAP women’s basketball tends to get an unfair treatment from ABS-CBN and sports fans in particular.

Lack of Popular Appeal

For the most part, women’s basketball has never been popular in the Philippines. Part of it was due to the absence of a legitimate women’s basketball league and a still-overlying perception that only men can play ball.

UAAP women’s basketball, in particular, only attracts around hundreds, if not less, fans in each game. Which leads to the second factor.

Disparity in Scheduling

Unlike men’s volleyball which is always scheduled before women’s volleyball matches, UAAP women’s basketball schedules always vary in terms of dates and venues. For example, here is the schedule for first round of Season 81.

Looking at the schedule closely, there are three playdates of at least three games that will be held at either the Blue Eagle Gym or the FilOil Flying V Centre. The rest are scheduled on the same day as the men’s basketball games at either the Mall of Asia Arena or the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The fact of the matter is, basketball remains a more popular sport than volleyball and the UAAP usually places the former sport for men in big venues because of its immense appeal. It would be tough for women’s basketball games to be scheduled on the same venue and on the same day as the men especially when popular rivalries such as Ateneo-La Salle come into play.

Loaded Schedule for ABS-CBN Sports

This September alone ABS-CBN Sports has an extremely busy schedule to attend to. In addition to UAAP men’s basketball, the network also covers the NCAA seniors’ basketball, the MPBL and the PVL among others.

ABS-CBN is also expected to air the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season next month. That said, with so many commitments left and right, the network has no room to cover UAAP women’s basketball on television and can only settle for live coverage of the finals come December (but at least it still airs the WNBA as part of its contract with the NBA).

It remains to be seen if ABS-CBN Sports will be willing to change its perception towards the UAAP women’s basketball tournament. For now, though, women’s basketball in the Philippines is a painful work in progress and it desperately needs the public’s help.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

A Filipino Viewer’s Guide to the 2018 NBA Finals

Cavs and Warriors, again.

An unprecedented fourth consecutive meeting in the NBA Finals awaits the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. On one side, the Warriors look to seal their status as a modern-day dynasty, while on the other, the Cavaliers attempt to once again even this long-running saga.

For this year, Filipino viewers will have three different options to watch the NBA Finals. Here are the following ways to experience the Finals.

ABS-CBN Sports

Both ABS-CBN Channel 2 and S+A will simultaneously air the NBA Finals live. Viewers on Channel 2 will hear Filipino commentary hosted by Boom Gonzalez, Ronnie Magsanoc and Benjie Paras, while S+A will use English commentary from ESPN in the U.S., anchored by Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Doris Burke.

Much like more recent NBA Finals broadcasts, Channel 2’s Filipino commentators will call the games straight from the ABS-CBN headquarters in Quezon City. In addition, TJ Manotoc will file reports on-site on news regarding the championship series.

Basketball TV and NBA Premium

The NBA Finals will also be delivered live on Basketball TV and NBA Premium, with both channels using English commentary from ESPN. In addition, BTV and NBA Premium will air extensive pre-game, post-game and off-day coverage of the Finals via NBA TV.

Basketball TV and NBA Premium are currently exclusive to Cignal and Cablelink subscribers only. The two channels are also available on digital TV via the EasyTV digibox (P2999 for purchase and P999 for renewal of subscription), but only for Metro Manila residents.

NBA League Pass

Basketball fans on the go can also watch the NBA Finals on their mobile devices via NBA League Pass. NBALP can be accessed via the NBA Game Time App on Google Play or Apple Store.

For more information on NBA League Pass, visit the NBA official website. For a step-by-step guide on subscribing to NBA League Pass, click the following links for Globe, Smart, PLDT and SkyCable subscribers.

If the last three meetings were of any indication, then expect another compelling battle between the Warriors and Cavs. Still, it remains to be seen if LeBron James will be able to sustain his seemingly one-man act against a deeper and stronger Warriors squad that has won two of the first three championship series.

Either way, NBA fans are in for a treat. Good luck.

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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.

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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.

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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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