entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Solar Channels Unavailable on SkyCable, Plus FOX Loses WWE Rights to TV5

Bad news for NBA and WWE fans in the Philippines.

Since last week, Solar Entertainment channels Basketball TV, NBA Premium TV, Jack TV, Solar Sports and CT were unavailable on SkyCable. The message posted by the company is as follows:

SKY regrets to inform its valuable subscribers that Solar channels, namely NBA Premium, BTV, Jack TV, Solar Sports, and CT are temporarily not available. It is unfortunate that it has affected the airing of the NBA playoffs.

Solar has been our valued partner for many years. We are working with them for a resolution, but we cannot comment on the details of our discussions.

NBA fans, however, can continue to watch the playoff games beginning this Sunday, April 16, all through the finals via ABS-CBN Sports + Action and Fox Sports channel. They can check the updated schedules posted here.

The concerns of our subscribers and viewers are of utmost importance to us. Again, we offer our sincere apologies for the inconvenience.

The loss of Solar channels hit NBA fans hard, as Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV air a majority of the games daily per season. As a result, the NBA decided to appease the demands of viewers by assigning two games per day on ABS-CBN’s S+A channel, plus a select amount on Fox Sports Philippines and ABS-CBN Channel 2 while the situation is being fixed.

This is not the first time that SkyCable viewers vented their anger over the company’s issues with Solar Entertainment. In 2008, SkyCable pulled out Basketball TV, Jack TV and Solar Sports in favor of Creative Programs’ own channels due to an alleged television contract issue with Manny Pacquiao, but the channels were later reinstated.

Moving over to the world of sports-entertainment, FOX Philippines stunned Filipino wrestling fans by announcing that they will no longer carry WWE programs on the network after an attempt to negotiate a renewal failed to materialize. The statement can be seen below.

FOX had been a valued partner of the WWE since 2011, airing not only pay-per-views, 205 Live, NXT, Raw and SmackDown, but also complementary programs. However, the network drew the ire of some wrestling fans when it failed to air a select number of pay-per-views following the brand extension last July.

In a related development, TV5 announced that they have agreed to air WWE programs beginning April 30. No further details were made, but the network is expected to use Channel 5, AksyonTV and HYPER as vehicles to broadcast WWE events, both live and recap.

It remains to be seen if TV5 will do the same things that FOX used to do, but regardless, wrestling fans should rejoice this decision. Good luck.

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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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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

ABS-CBN to Air NBA Finals Game 7 Live

Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals will indeed air LIVE on ABS-CBN Channel 2, preempting ‘Magandang Buhay’ and the premiere of ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ season 3. (Promotional photo courtesy of ABS-CBN)

ABS-CBN is finally doing something right for once.

Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, according to ABS-CBN, will be aired LIVE. But since the game will be held on a Sunday in the United States (Monday in the Philippines), the game time will be at 8:00 a.m. Manila time, an hour earlier than usual.

Circumstances like this warrant a delayed telecast because of the presence of ‘Magandang Buhay’. But with Game 7 of the NBA Finals obviously the most important game of the season, ABS-CBN finally decided to give in to the viewers’ demands.

Thus, ‘Magandang Buhay’, along with the premiere of ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ season 3, will be preempted for today, and the NBA Finals will air LIVE on Channel 2. It will still be called in-studio by Boom Gonzalez, Ronnie Magsanoc and Benjie Paras, among others, alongside TJ Manotoc on location in Oakland, California.

Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV will also simulcast Game 7 of the Finals with English commentary via ABC in the United States. There will also be a live viewing party at the NBA Cafe in SM Aura, Taguig.

The 2016 NBA Finals pits the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, and the Golden State Warriors, led by Stephen Curry. The Warriors seek to win back-to-back titles and validate their record-breaking 73-win season, while the Cavaliers look to end a 52-year title drought for Cleveland with their first championship.

The Warriors initially led the NBA Finals 3-1. But thanks to a pair of 40-point games by LeBron James, the Cavaliers were able to force a Game 7, and will now try to become the first team in NBA history to win the championship after trailing 3-1.

Replay of Game 7 will be later tonight at 10:30 p.m. on ABS-CBN Sports+Action, with another replay to be aired on an undetermined time tomorrow morning. Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV will re-air Game 7 at 7:00 p.m.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

BTV Robbed by NBA’s Biased Scheduling Assignments

The first week of NBA playoff coverage on Basketball TV will focus on less popular teams like the Raptors and Pacers, rather than the more highly followed ones like the Warriors and Cavaliers. (Photo credit: Solar Entertainment)

The NBA Playoffs have not been kind to Basketball TV these days.

When the NBA released its playoff schedule for Filipino broadcast partners, five things stood out for Basketball TV as far as the first week of coverage is concerned. They are:

  1. No assigned game to BTV for April 20, Wednesday. The said date (Manila time) will feature Game 2 of both the Hawks/Celtics and Spurs/Grizzlies series.
  2. A combined six appearances in eight playdates for either the Raptors/Pacers or the Heat/Hornets series, with the other two assigned to the Hawks/Celtics series.
  3. No Western Conference games, plus the Cavaliers/Pistons series.
  4. No doubleheaders.
  5. Three games shared with either ABS-CBN or ABS-CBN Sports+Action (Heat/Hornets on April 21, Raptors/Pacers on April 22, Hawks/Celtics on April 23).

This means that viewers on BTV will have to endure watching less popular teams such as the Raptors, Hornets and Pacers on a regular basis rather than the more marquee ones like the Warriors, Spurs and Cavaliers. So much for maintaining balance of coverage.

Even worse for the network is the lack of game coverage on select playdates. That will be the case tomorrow, as the NBA did not assign one game for BTV.

So what was left for BTV to do? They have no choice but to air the postgame edition of NBA Gametime, then replay it over and over again until the next game concludes.

Very unfortunate indeed. And that has been the case for the past few years.

Regardless of the expected negative reaction, it was and always will be the NBA’s decision to assign these games, so there’s no need to complain on it. That said, subscribing to both NBA Premium and Fox Sports Philippines is necessary to everyone who can’t stand BTV’s coverage.

If not, just endure the Taglish coverage of ABS-CBN Sports for this year’s playoffs. Good luck with that.

 

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