entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Evaluating the First Month of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports V.2

The NCAA’s return to ABS-CBN Sports has been a good one so far. (Logo courtesy of the NCAA)

The second incarnation of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports is now a month old.

The oldest collegiate league in the country returned to ABS-CBN Sports in hopes of getting back on track. So far, though, viewers were treated to a slightly similar broadcast approach as the one that Sports5 previously handled, with a few differences of course.

Here’s a look at how ABS-CBN was able to make their mark on the league so far.

Use of Taglish

Unexpectedly, the network decided to use Taglish while calling the games. In their first run from 2002-12, ABS-CBN Sports announcers called the NCAA games in English, but with Sports+Action increasingly attracting a mass audience, the use of Taglish was necessitated.

This was the same approach that TV5 used when they covered the NCAA, but unfortunately for them, they failed to catch on for various reasons.

Emphasis on Social Media

The NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports also tapped in a new market called social media. Throughout each game, tweets and Instagram posts from players, fans and even basketball enthusiasts are read by the announcers in relation to the game at hand, with an official hashtag to boot.

They even allow announcers to take pre-game selfies (a novel practice in sports broadcasting), which are then posted to their individual Instagram accounts. And for the curious viewers, graphics of the announcers’ names now include their Twitter and/or Instagram accounts.

New Announcers

Speaking of announcers, ABS-CBN Sports employed a mix of young and experienced broadcasters to the NCAA game. Anton Roxas and Andrei Felix were carried over from the original incarnation, while Boom Labrusca, who also doubles as a courtside reporter, is a neophyte to the play-by-play profession.

Unlike TV5 which used former professional players as analysts, ABS-CBN hired mostly former collegiate standouts in order to relate better with the college game. The network has used Mikee Reyes, Migs Bustos, Martin Antonio and Olsen Racela to analyze the games, with Racela having also worked with the Sports5 crew in the past.

Familiar and Not-So Familiar Courtside Reporters

Those who have watched the NCAA so far may notice some familiar and unsuspecting faces to the courtside reporter spot. Before the season began, ABS-CBN Sports announced that cosplayer, Hero TV jock and former ‘Pinoy Big Brother’ housemate Myrtle Sarrosa would be one of the courtside reporters for the season.

Since then, Myrtle was joined by the aforementioned Boom Labrusca, followed by Ceej Tantengco and Rox Montealegre. Quite a familiar bunch, but one with little experience to the world of sports.

The ABS-CBN Sports courtside reporters have three different responsibilities:

  1. To report on the teams’ strategies,
  2. To interview a player’s family members and friends, school alumni, students or fans, and
  3. To interview players and coaches during pregame and postgame (if applicable)

The said strategy is similar to what TV5 employed, but with less on-cam time.

Halftime Presentations

Halftime of each game usually consists of a brief glimpse of a school’s cheering exhibition, followed by a special feature and an analysis of the first half. For the viewers who had enough of TV5’s radical changes (e.g. Moneyball), this is a welcome development to bring back the intended mission of the NCAA: to promote loyalty, camaraderie and school spirit.

HD Broadcasts and Return of Smart and PLDT

In a surprise move, ABS-CBN welcomed Smart and PLDT as sponsors. The two telecommunications outfits are a sister company of ABS-CBN’s competitor TV5, which is a stunning move to say the least.

And finally, the NCAA games are now broadcast in its full 16:9 HD glory. While ABS-CBN Sports was the first to broadcast an event in HD, they did not fully take advantage of the new technology until this year.

So far, it’s been a beneficial first month of NCAA coverage. And while some would disagree with these moves, ABS-CBN is clearly intent on taking serious steps to make the NCAA more appealing to the masses.

The season is still a long way to go, but from the looks of it, the NCAA has found a perfect partner to thrive with. With a few tweaks, expect this partnership to last a lot longer.

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Philippines, Sports, television

NCAA Returns to ABS-CBN

After an unsuccessful three-year stint with TV5, the NCAA returns to ABS-CBN Sports starting with Season 91. (Photo credit: ABS-CBNNews.com)

The NCAA returns to an old friend.

It was announced that the NCAA will once again join forces with ABS-CBN Sports for the next ten years, beginning with Season 91 that is slated to open on June 27. This ends a rather unfruitful three-year partnership between the league and previous coveror TV5.

Under the terms of a new contract, ABS-CBN Sports+Action will air the NCAA seniors basketball games on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with a total of seven games a week. Most games will be at the FilOil Flying V Arena, while select marquee matchups will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena.

In addition, Sports+Action will air the playoffs of women’s volleyball, as well as short highlights of the league’s other sports. Overall, the ten-year deal between the NCAA and ABS-CBN is aimed at promoting, developing, building and stabilizing the NCAA in a sporting and marketing standpoint.

ABS-CBN Sports and the NCAA first joined forces in Season 78 (2002-03), with host San Beda College responsible for the deal. The initial partnership resulted in wider and more extensive game coverage for the league, whereas in prior years it only received fringe coverage in other networks.

The NCAA’s first foray with ABS-CBN Sports lasted for ten seasons. Then in Season 88, the league joined forces with Sports5, hoping to bring in additional televised games and attract more viewers in the process.

However, the league and Sports5 encountered numerous problems, such as constant scheduling changes, lack of marketing and promotion, and network assignments. TV5 also lacked the resources to improve its power, reach and accessibility, as well as adapting to new technologies such as online live-streaming.

That said, the marriage between TV5 and the NCAA was destined to fail. And it did.

Now that the NCAA has returned to ABS-CBN Sports, fans can only hope that the latter will deliver the little things that TV5 failed to do. The long-term contract between the two parties should help the NCAA grow not only as a league, but as a brand, something ABS-CBN Sports was able to do with the UAAP.

The NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports begins this June 27. Good luck.

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