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The End of Studio 23

Left: Studio 23’s ‘Premium Network’ logo from 1996-2010. Right: Studio 23’s ‘IbaKabarkada’ logo from 2010-14.

Studio 23 has announced that it will sign off for the last time this Friday. Replacing the Kabarkada channel will be an unnamed sports channel that will begin operations the next day. But before the change becomes official, here is a look back at the network’s history.

Debuting on October 12, 1996 as a primetime-only block, Studio 23 was first utilized by ABS-CBN as its answer to GMA’s then-sister station Citynet 27. The network would make its own niche in 1998 when it started to air the Metropolitan Basketball Association, the first sports event produced by the soon-to-be ABS-CBN Sports division. By 2001, Studio 23 became a full-fledged network after MTV was dropped in favor of MYX, and ruled the UHF television landscape after the demise of Citynet 27.

It was the acquisition of the UAAP broadcast rights, however, that changed Studio 23 forever. The network began to air UAAP men’s basketball in 2000, and soon after, Studio 23 gradually veered away from the foreign canned programs in favor of their own productions. The shift of content was evident midway through the 2000s, when Studio 23 began to carry the ‘Kabarkada Mo’ slogan, emphasizing its programming focus towards the youth and young adult demographics.

In 2010, Studio 23 not only adopted a new logo, but also changed programming once more. Filipino is now used to dub some of the foreign programs. The all-English ‘News Central’ was replaced by the all-Filipino newscast ‘IbaBalita’. And in a preview of things to come, more sports events were added, such as the NBA, UEFA and Philippine Azkals soccer, WWE, UFC and Top Rank Boxing.

Which leads us to January 17, 2014. Throughout this week two different teasers currently air: one to say farewell and thanks to Studio 23, and another to welcome the upcoming all-sports channel. And based on the teasers, it is clear that the objective of ABS-CBN is to expand and develop its sports properties to a wider audience.

By Saturday, the new name of Channel 23 will be officially unveiled. But for now, we say goodbye to Studio 23 and its 17 years of ruling the UHF television landscape. Thanks for all the memories.

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