action, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

WWE Out of ABS-CBN Sports?

The Daniel Bryan vs. the Authority angle will not be seen on free TV’s ABS-CBN Sports + Action for now.

Looks like the ‘Road to WrestleMania’ ended way too soon for ABS-CBN Sports.

In an unexpected development, WWE programming was pulled out of the ABS-CBN Sports + Action channel at the beginning of March, and were replaced by either the Ultimate Fighting Championship, UEFA Champions League, Pinoy Pride and Top Rank Boxing, or the NBA. The pullout of WWE programs by ABS-CBN Sports comes in three years after Solar Entertainment’s Jack TV decided to cease airing all WWE programs.

As expected, some wrestling fans were angered by ABS-CBN’s decision to cancel its broadcast of the WWE. However, the reaction only paled in comparison to Solar’s pullout three years earlier, where an overwhelming majority of wrestling fans balked at the one-hour international format of Raw, the absence of SmackDown and Main Event (both currently airing on FOX Philippines), and the delayed broadcast of WWE pay-per-views on the Kapamilya’s UHF channel.

The absence of WWE programming on ABS-CBN Sports may have stemmed from the fact that the Vince McMahon-owned company recently established the WWE Network after the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. As many wrestling fans know, the new network is expected to carry every WWE pay-per-view beginning with WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans. Because of that, ABS-CBN Sports may find it difficult to even broadcast the upcoming WrestleMania 30 in both SkyCable and Sports + Action, considering the already complicated situation.

Should ABS-CBN Sports officially close the door on the WWE, Fox needs to step up. While the channel already has SmackDown and Main Event along with other supplementary programs like Vintage, Afterburn and Bottomline, what Fox needs at this point are both Raw and the pay-per-views in order to satisfy the demands of loyal wrestling viewers. If that happens, perhaps a return to a two or three-hour format for Raw and free live pay-per-views is in order, provided that Fox airs WWE programs on the same week as the U.S.

The loss of WWE should not be a big deal for Kapamilya viewers. After all, there is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, another form of combat sports which is just as entertaining, but without the scripted excess that is featured in professional wrestling. However, it remains to be seen whether or not free TV will once again accept the WWE.

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The Trouble With Last Saturday’s TV Programming

Last Saturday on television was memorable for both the right and wrong reasons. There was a PBA doubleheader, a double-overtime NBA thriller, a boxing event, and a dance contest featuring elementary school students. It also witnessed a pair of programming changes, and a slew of programs that ran way behind schedule.

On this article, the focus of attention will be on the programming problems that plagued the ‘Big 3’ networks last Saturday. Here is how I looked at the programming that took place last March 22, and how they need to be rectified.

ABS-CBN

The Oklahoma City-Toronto NBA game lasted until the second overtime, and as a result ‘It’s Showtime’ began later than usual, at around 12:45-1:00 p.m. The highlight of the variety show was the grand finals of the ‘Stars on 45’ talent contest, where Haydee Manosca emerged the winner. ‘It’s Showtime’ lasted until 4:00 p.m., affecting other programs’ start times for the remainder of ABS-CBN’s operating day.

Perhaps the Kapamilya network’s Saturday schedule would have served better if ‘It’s Showtime’ airs from 12:30-3:30, making it a three-hour program similar to the Saturday edition of its competitor ‘Eat Bulaga’. In addition, the airing of ‘Saturday Specials: Shake, Rattle and Roll’ is unnecessary, and should be removed in favor of making ‘SOCO: Scene of the Crime Operatives’ and ‘Failon Ngayon’ into a pair of hour-long programs.

GMA

‘Eat Bulaga’ took place at Resorts World Manila, where the grand finals of ‘Junior Pinoy Henyo”s cheerdancing competition was held. However, it was the broadcast of another movie on the ‘GMA Blockbusters’ block following ‘Laban ng Lahi’, and the transfer of ‘Reporters’ Notebook’ which affected its programming for the remainder of the day. Poor German Moreno and his ‘Walang Tulugan’ variety show.

To keep Kuya Germs and his loyal viewers happy and awake, ‘GMA Blockbusters’ should be restricted to just one movie or event rather than the unnecessary two. That way, the succeeding programs can be aired at a more comfortable timeslot.

TV5

Gone are the AksyonTV simulcasts of the PBA, and as a result, TV5 was compelled to air every PBA game for the rest of the season. The first Saturday doubleheader aired on the network was not without any complications, however. ‘Aksyon Weekend’ was slotted in between the doubleheader, much to the dismay of the league owners, while the programs that followed the PBA aired later than usual, with the live broadcast of ‘SpinNation’ taking place at a rather unfavorable time of 11:20 p.m.

The only Saturday program that was affected by the change was ‘Juan Direction, which now air on Sunday nights. It would have been better, however, if ‘Kaya’ was included in the move, since that particular program became expendable with the increase of PBA airtime. In addition, ‘Aksyon Weekend’ should be aired after the PBA games are finished.

March 22, 2014 should be remembered as one of the most infamous dates in Philippine television. The programming last Saturday proved to be excruciating and frustrating for the viewers, mostly due to some programs that aired way beyond their usual start times. Unless the executives make some more favorable changes in their respective networks’ programming, things will only get worse from here.

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March Madness: Solar’s Loss is TV5’s Gain

Top-ranked pro prospect Andrew Wiggins and other college basketball stars will be in the spotlight as the US NCAA March Madness will air on TV5 and its affiliates.

This March, the US NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, more popularly known as ‘March Madness’, will be shown in the Philippines via the networks of TV5. The Kapatid network’s acquisition of March Madness gives the event some much-needed exposure on free TV, something that its previous coveror could not afford. But how did TV5 earn their ticket to ‘March Madness’?

For several years, coverage of March Madness was given to Solar Sports via its all-basketball channel Basketball TV. In addition to the NCAA tournament, the network also aired select regular season and postseason games from popular conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, and the Pacific-10 (later Pacific-12) Conference. However, when BTV did not air any US NCAA college games this year, the March Madness coverage in the country was put into question.

Looking back, there were some shortcomings to BTV’s coverage of March Madness, and of US NCAA basketball in general. Because the network’s primary focus is on the NBA, coverage of regular season college basketball was restricted to tape-delay broadcasts, unlike in Fox Sports Philippines (formerly ESPN) where it can air the games live. Then come March Madness, BTV would be forced to tape-delay NBA games and air a minimum of one game per round, alienating some rabid NBA fans and even college basketball viewers.

With mounting pressure from its viewers, Solar and Basketball TV had no choice but to finally drop the US NCAA college basketball from its lineup. It wasn’t until late February that Sports5 decided to step up, announcing that it has acquired the rights for the US NCAA March Madness. Its announcement came just as the 2014 Winter Olympics on the Kapatid network was about to finish.

Sports5’s coverage of the US NCAA March Madness include free TV broadcasts of select games on TV5 and AksyonTV 41, complementary live broadcasts on cable network Hyper and Cignal HD pay-per-view, and live streaming though PLDT’s broadband services. This means that more games will be offered in each platform, giving college basketball fans additional options to watch their favorite US NCAA schools run towards the championship.

Now that TV5 and its affiliates will have the rights to the US NCAA March Madness, the countdown to the most highly-anticipated college basketball tournament in the world is underway. And college basketball fans can’t wait to watch.

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‘It’s Showtime’ Extends Airtime on Saturdays

With ‘The Singing Bee’ now moved to weekday mornings, Saturday editions of ‘It’s Showtime’ are now extended to nearly four hours.

This week, ‘The Singing Bee’ moved from its original Saturday afternoon slot to the weekday morning slot. And contrary to what I wrote in a previous article, ‘The Singing Bee’ will only be seen on weekdays rather than six times a week as originally predicted. As a result, there was a vacancy to fill on ABS-CBN’s Saturday afternoon lineup, but viewers need not to worry.

The top-rated noontime variety show ‘It’s Showtime’ will now be extended to at least 3 1/2 hours every Saturday, effective March 1. By all accounts, the extended airtime was necessitated by the lack of available programs that would have filled the 3 p.m. slot. In addition, the extension allowed the program to air a few more segments and concert performances that would keep viewers interested. But there is another reason behind the extension.

Rival ‘Eat Bulaga’ on GMA usually starts its Saturday broadcasts at 11:30 a.m. With the NBA games still airing at this point, ‘It’s Showtime’ had no choice but to air 30 or 45 minutes later, and at the time ‘The Singing Bee’ aired on Saturdays, the runtime of ‘It’s Showtime’ was only 2 3/4 to 3 hours, compared to Eat Bulaga’s 3 to 3 1/2 hour duration. Despite that, ‘It’s Showtime’ still rated better than ‘Eat Bulaga’ based on Kantar’s ratings, but the need for extended airtime was too good to pass up.

Fortunately for ‘It’s Showtime’, the longer airtime will be more beneficial, since the final hour only competes against ‘GMA Blockbusters’. And with additional segments and musical performances on the menu, expect ‘It’s Showtime’ to create more memorable and entertaining moments in an expanded Saturday format.

UPDATE: Contrary to what I posted on this article, ‘It’s Showtime’ will not be extending its runtime every Saturday, although it may still extend beyond 3 p.m. in order to finish each segment. Instead ABS-CBN will air ‘Sabado Specials: Shake, Rattle & Roll’, featuring more recent short films taken from the ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll’ franchise. The first shortie to air this Saturday will be ‘Poso’ from the 2005 installment, starring Ai Ai de las Alas.

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A Viewer’s Guide to the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend

 

This year’ NBA All-Star Weekend in the Philippines will again be shared by both ABS-CBN and Solar’s Basketball TV.

On February 15-17 (Manila time), the NBA will once again stage its annual All-Star Weekend. And at the midseason classic in New Orleans, hundreds of media outlets around the world, including the Philippines, will be on hand to cover the proceedings.

Here’s is a viewer’s guide on how to watch the NBA All-Star Weekend in the Philippines.

ABS-CBN, Solar Will Use Separate Feeds

ABS-CBN will send Boom Gonzales and TJ Manotoc to cover the All-Star Game. Like last year, the duo will also be on hand to call the All-Star Saturday events. As a result of Boom’s assignment to the All-Star Game, the UAAP women’s volleyball play-by-play for the rest of the eliminations will be handled by Anton Roxas and Eric Tipan. The Rising Stars Challenge on ABS-CBN will likely use TNT’s broadcasters.

Basketball TV and NBA Premium will use the TNT play-by-play for all three events. In addition, BTV will send Riki Flores to do player interviews and document other All-Star events such as Jam Session. Riki’s All-Star coverage will be used on the short segments ‘The Grind’, ‘One on One’, and ’24 Seconds’.

Both networks will be using the NBA TV International feed for all three events.

All-Star Saturday and All-Star Game on Sports + Action

Unfortunately, ABS-CBN Channel 2 will only broadcast the Rising Stars Challenge. The rest of the All-Star events will be handled by sister network ABS-CBN Sports + Action on Channel 23, as the broadcast of these events will be in conflict with ABS-CBN programs such as ‘Matanglawin’, ‘Kapamilya: Minute to Win It’ (last two weeks), and ‘Be Careful with My Heart’.

Expanded Coverage on Basketball TV and NBA Premium

And finally, from February 15-17, most, if not all programs on Basketball TV and NBA Premium will be related to All-Star Weekend. This includes Jam Session, the All-Star Celebrity Game, the NBA D-League’s own All-Star Weekend, Commissioner Adam Silver’s press conferences, pre-event and post-event coverage of the Rising Stars, All-Star Saturday and All-Star Game, and the player practices for the All-Star Game. The NBA TV feed will be used for most of the programs.

With that, I expect both networks to give their best in broadcasting the annual NBA All-Star Weekend. The showcase is a fun and exciting event that basketball fans will surely not miss. After all, it is an ‘All-Star Weekend’, where the league’s best players converge in one roof.

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Will March Madness Be Aired on BTV?

So far, Basketball TV has not aired any U.S. NCAA college basketball game this year. As a result, the upcoming broadcast of March Madness on that station remains uncertain.

It’s already the fourth month of the college basketball season in the United States, and yet Basketball TV in the Philippines has not aired any game of the U.S. NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball conference tournaments. Now the question is: Will March Madness be aired on BTV?

In previous years, BTV aired select games of the U.S. NCAA conference tournaments, mostly coming from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). BTV also aired select games of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament, including all of the Elite Eight, Final Four and the Championship rounds, as part of ‘March Madness on BTV’. Its commitment to the NCAA attracted some NBA fans who looked forward to watch some of the most hyped NBA prospects in action.

However, contrary to the inclusion of the Louisville Cardinals’ championship victory on its station ID, BTV has not been able to broadcast any U.S. NCAA game this year. A lot of basketball fans were looking forward to watch future stars such as Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker play, and BTV is surely expected to give college basketball fans what they want to see. Unfortunately, that was not the case this year.

If Basketball TV decides not to pursue anymore its broadcast of March Madness, let alone the entire NCAA college basketball season, it will be a huge loss to the network. They already lost the rights to the Spanish Liga ACB this year, leaving them with only the NBA, Euroleague, NBA D-League, FIBA Basketball and local tournaments such as the SBP-Passerelle as their primary outlets. Losing the US NCAA will definitely be demoralizing, and more importantly, college basketball fans will not be happy about it.

It remains to be seen if March Madness will be picked up on another network. For now, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and other future NBA stars will not have any airtime on any station in the Philippines this year.

UPDATE: Sports5 executive and Gilas head coach Chot Reyes tweeted today that March Madness or the US NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will be seen on TV5 this March. The coverage will likely involve sister stations AksyonTV and HYPER. More information on this event coming soon. As for Basketball TV, they should start editing their station ID now that March Madness is out of the network.

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