entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

A Lesson Learned: The Success of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition

Defending champions in both the Cheerdance and Group Stunts competitions, the NU Cheering Squad will try to do one better this Sunday in the 2014 UAAP Cheerdance Competition. (Photo credit: GMA Network)

On Sunday, cheering squads of the eight UAAP schools will once again take center stage.

The UAAP Cheerdance Competition, now on its 20th edition, will take place inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum on September 14. The can’t miss event of the UAAP season besides men’s basketball and women’s volleyball, the Cheerdance Competition has been steadily growing in popularity since ABS-CBN Sports took over league broadcast rights in Season 63 (2000-01).

While it does not have any effect on the overall championship tally, fans, students and alumni will nevertheless enjoy every moment of the cheering squads’ execution of stunts, leaps, tumbles and special themes, not to mention the loud cheers and the banging drums. The unpredictable nature of the event makes for some compelling television.

So it was not a surprise to see why the recent editions of the Cheerdance Competition became social media hits. ABS-CBN Sports has done a very good job in hyping the event in advance, and the fans, whether they are watching in person, on ABS-CBN Sports+Action, on Balls HD 167, or on UAAP’s livestream website, were invested into the network’s early bird promotion.

This was in contrast to the recent NCAA Cheerleading Competition that was held at the Mall of Asia Arena last March. Poor attendance, poor viewership, lack of sponsors, and poor hype were the reasons why no one paid attention to NCAA’s own version. And TV5, the league’s coveror, paid dearly for it.

If there’s a league that can make cheerdancing a popular spectacle even for just one day, it’s the UAAP. The Cheerdance Competition is the time of the year where the cheering squads of the eight member schools try to one-up each other by performing routines that are difficult, impressive and creatively planned to near-perfection. And the fans buy into each performance.

This year’s competition will be no different, as defending champion NU Cheering Squad and the seven others will try to improve on last year’s routines. The UAAP Cheerdance Competition is expected to be another 20k-attended event, and millions will surely talk about it on social media before, during, and after the event.

One final note: For those in search of some eye candy, pay attention to Boom Gonzales’ dazzling co-host for Sunday afternoon, as well as the season’s courtside reporters in their respective schools’ gear. The Cheerdance Competition will not be complete without them.

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Philippines, Sports, television

What’s Wrong with the NCAA on Sports5?

The 89th NCAA season in the Philippines recently concluded with De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde winning the overall seniors title, and San Beda College-Taytay winning the high school title. However, the season proved to be a dud in a broadcasting standpoint, and as NCAA’s television contract with Sports5 enters its final year, a lot of issues had to be resolved.

Scheduling Concerns on Seniors Basketball

Like in Season 88, Sports5 scheduled the elimination round games at 4 p.m. The eliminations were aired on AksyonTV after the dissolution of AKTV on IBC-13. However, during the playoffs, they were moved to a less favorable 12 p.m. slot to accommodate TV5’s loaded primetime programs.

Obviously, neither viewership nor attendance increased despite the move to primetime, and it became even worse when the games were moved to the less powerful AksyonTV. In addition, the decision to air the Final Four and Finals at 12 p.m. on TV5 caused a backlash; one particular Final Four doubleheader was affected by the Janet Lim-Napoles hearings, forcing the games to air only on AksyonTV. The early afternoon broadcasts of the Finals, like in the eliminations, did little to attract viewers.

It also didn’t help that the NCAA basketball season extended to November due to the FIBA Asia Championship and the typhoons that forced the postponement of games, thus leaving fans impatient.

Lack of Publicity

Last Thursday’s Cheerleading Competition at the Mall of Asia Arena was a prime example of Sports5’s lack of publicity with the league, with attendance figures sharply less than the consistent sellout crowds of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition at the said venue. The event, unlike its UAAP counterpart, was a non-factor in social media circles.

Sports5’s lack of promotion extends beyond the cheerleading competition. Women’s volleyball, already a centerpiece in the NCAA’s second semester, was given little to no attention by Sports5 due to the PBA, and as a result only a few games were aired at the unconventional 12 p.m. slot. Other events were also given only spot highlights during commercials.

Announcers’ Problems

As I have noted in a previous article, Sports5 announcers had the tendency to speak just before the commercial gaps end. This was none more evident than during the NCAA basketball finals, and the problems extended beyond the NCAA games.

If these announcers learn to cue themselves before the end of a commercial, then Sports5’s NCAA coverage would have been smoother and more consistent. But instead the announcers became impatient, and that ruined the viewers’ experience.

Outlook

The NCAA on Sports5 enters a contract year in Season 90, and through the first two years, coverage has not been good. With its contract expiring, Sports5 needs to improve on these aspects in hopes of extending its deal with the league, otherwise the NCAA may begin considering a new partner for Season 91.

Good luck with that.

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