news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, Sports, television

Rudely Interrupted: T5N Does a Heidi Anew for the NFL and U.S. NCAA

Remember the infamous ‘Heidi Game’ in American football?

Back on November 17, 1968, an American Football League (AFL) game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders was rudely cut on NBC during the fourth quarter in order to air the program ‘Heidi’ on time. The incident caused viewers to miss out on the game’s final minutes, which saw the Jets kick a field goal only to see Oakland win the game on two touchdowns.

This incident led to the NFL requiring its television partners to air the games in its entirety. Unfortunately, one Filipino television network appears to ignore this rule.

In 2014, TV5 gave NCAA fans no favors when it interrupted two of its live games in favor of news coverage. The first instance, Lyceum vs. Mapua, was cut short in favor of then-President Noynoy Aquino’s impromptu speech, while the second instance, EAC vs. Mapua, featured a bench-clearing brawl and was consequently cut in favor of ‘Aksyon Prime’.

As a result, the NCAA decided not to re-sign with TV5 and chose ABS-CBN Sports as its broadcast partner instead. But this is not the last time The 5 Network became embroiled in such controversy.

September’s NFL Kickoff Game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons was delayed by over an hour due to inclement weather. Consequently, T5N did another ‘Heidi’ and started ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ on time, although they still inserted the live feed of the NFL game during the Raffy Tulfo in Action segment.

T5N also did the same thing Wednesday afternoon when they aired a U.S. NCAA men’s basketball game between Duke and Kentucky. While they still complied in both of these cases, the fact that they pushed through with ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ didn’t sit well with some viewers.

Then again, neither the NFL nor the U.S. NCAA basketball were popular with Filipino sports fans. At this point, ESPN5 is questioning the viability of both sports, especially when the country’s pastimes now are local basketball, volleyball and to a lesser extent soccer.

Also, there is a concern regarding T5N’s insistence on a noontime newscast at the expense of live sports. For all intents and purposes, ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ is now more of a ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ spinoff, with less emphasis on news and more on citizen complaints.

If Chot Reyes were to be approached, he might as well convince Luchi Cruz-Valdes to cancel ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ and proceed with a taped-as-live TV revival of ‘Wanted’. Because who needs a noontime newscast anyway when the news gets thrown out the window.

Either way the never-ending problems within T5N are once again prevalent. Let’s face it, with such an incompetent personnel it’s no wonder they have a disorganized schedule.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Thoughts on U.S. NCAA College Basketball on ESPN5

ESPN5 will cover some of the U.S. NCAA intra and interconference games this season, and they will also air March Madness in March 2018. (Photo credit: National Collegiate Athletic Association)

The NBA may still be the most popular global basketball league for Filipinos, but ESPN5 is looking to change that perspective.

When TV5 and ESPN joined forces to establish ESPN5 last month, one of the things that they addressed is the lack of serious attention towards U.S. college basketball in the Philippines. While TV5 has been able to broadcast the March Madness portion of U.S. NCAA basketball in recent years, regular season coverage was only restricted to obscure networks such as All-Sports Network (now Sports Illustrated Asia).

That changed last Wednesday when ESPN5 began to air intra and inter-conference games of the U.S. NCAA Division I basketball season. Weekly doubleheaders are currently aired, live or delayed, starting at 8:00 a.m. on days where the NFL is not aired, and the frequency is expected to increase once the NFL season ends.

Even though the U.S. NCAA is expected to provide a boost to ESPN5, there are still some doubts as to whether or not this league will thrive among Filipino basketball fans. Here are some questions that may test the Filipino’s knowledge of the U.S. NCAA.

  1. Do they know some of these up-and-coming U.S. college basketball stars (e.g. Marvin Bagley)?
  2. Do they know top rivalries such as Duke vs. North Carolina and Kentucky vs. Louisville?
  3. Do they know the rules of the U.S. NCAA which is drastically different from the NBA and FIBA?
  4. Do they know each college and university’s nicknames, colors, cultures and traditions?
  5. Do they have the patience and time to even care about U.S. college basketball?

That said, it will not be easy for ESPN5 to promote U.S. NCAA basketball despite the Filipinos’ love of the game. Much like the NBA, the PBA and even local college hoops such as the UAAP and the NCAA, expect plenty of growing pains before the U.S. NCAA becomes embedded in every Filipino basketball fan.

But does ESPN5 have plenty of time and money to do so? Considering the limits of its licensing deal with TV5, not to mention the network’s poor reach, they really need all the time and power in the world to cultivate the U.S. NCAA into a part of Filipino basketball culture.

Oh well. In any case, let’s give ESPN5 the best of luck with the U.S. NCAA because it is going to be a rough ride ahead.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

In and Out: TV5 Announces, Then Pulls Out NFL

Unless things change, the NFL will not be seen on Philippine television in the foreseeable future after Sports Illustrated Asia backed out and TV5 pulled out any scheduled games from its lineup. (Photo courtesy of the National Football League)

America’s most popular sport appears to be on its way out of the Philippines.

Sports Illustrated Asia, formerly the All-Sports Network (ASN), dropped the NFL from its lineup of programs at the start of the 2017 season. The channel best known for airing the National Hockey League, U.S. NCAA college football and college basketball had been broadcasting NFL games for nearly a decade now.

Almost simultaneously, TV5 announced that they will carry NFL games this season. But as soon as they placed the schedule of NFL games on its website, they decided to pull them out at the last minute in favor of ‘Movie Max 5’.

This means that for the first time in decades, the NFL will not be seen on Philippine television this season (unless one network will air the Super Bowl this February). It’s a shame considering that the league has had a long and distinguished love affair with Filipino sports fans and American expats, even though it falls behind basketball, volleyball and soccer in terms of local popularity.

Going back to TV5, the last-minute pullout of NFL games is the latest in a series of blunders committed by the network this month. Last week, TV5 ceased airing Cartoon Network and Boomerang shows in favor of TV shopping and movies, then in another last-minute move, they postponed anew the premiere of Brillante Mendoza’s ‘Amo’.

These moves are typical of Chot Reyes’ incompetence as a network executive. Once lauded for promoting the network’s ‘Choose Courage’ mantra, Chot’s questionable decisions has now turned the slogan into a joke.

The NFL, despite its lack of popularity in the Philippines, would have filled TV5’s suddenly moribund schedule. Had it aired as scheduled, people would have praised Chot Reyes for this fearless and courageous move.

Instead, Chot retreated like a coward and instructed his staff to pull them out in favor of endless Tagalized movies and TV shopping blocks. Which leads to where TV5 is now, a network lacking any sense of direction.

Considering the expensive broadcast rights of the NFL, perhaps TV5 was right in not pursuing the league. But without a ‘Plan B’, all signs point to Chot Reyes becoming a pariah in the world of Philippine television.

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Philippines, Sports, television

No NFL on Solar Sports Again

The recent Super Bowl was aired on Solar Sports last February, but despite the opening of the new NFL season, no live games were being aired on the said network.

If you were a fan of the National Football League, you may remember that Solar Sports aired both the conference championship games and the Super Bowl early this year. However, as the new NFL season got underway this week, there was no sign of NFL programming on the Solar Sports channel.

As many of you know, the NFL has been aired exclusively in the Philippines via the All Sports Network (ASN), which unfortunately is exclusive through SkyCable and can only be unlocked if subscribers are able to afford more expensive packages. With American football fans craving and asking for a more affordable viewing choice, the Solar Entertainment management caved in to their demands and aired the final three NFL games of the 2012 season through Solar Sports. I thought they were on their way to airing NFL games for the 2013 season. However, they decided that these will be the last NFL games ever seen on a more affordable channel for the forseeable future, owing to the lucrative costs and low viewership numbers.

If low viewership numbers were to be considered, then the Solar management were pretty much correct in deferring themselves from airing the NFL. However, Fox Sports Asia continues to air Major League Baseball games despite the fact that a few people watch baseball in the Philippines. If Fox had their way, they would have stopped airing baseball games in favor of a more exclusive cable network. At the moment the most popular team sports in the Philippines are basketball, volleyball and soccer, owing to the recent success of the Gilas and Azkals national teams, as well as the local leagues established in Metro Manila (e.g. PBA, UAAP, NCAA). The popularity and loyal fanbase of these sports are the reasons why the likes of Solar, ABS-CBN, and TV5 continue to air these sports on a frequent basis.

The NFL is undoubtedly the most-watched league in the United States after the MLB. However its global popularity is limited due to the sport’s physical nature, lack of foreign players and high expenses of funding an American football team, which is why the NFL is taking baby steps in extending its fanbase beyond the United States. Despite their efforts, it may take a while before they can finally establish a foothold in the world of sports. Meanwhile only a few viewers can afford watching the NFL on the All Sports Network, hence the future of the sport on a more affordable outfit remains uncertain.

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Sports, television, United States

Evolution of the American Sports Network

By August 2013, all of the four major television networks in the US have their own national sports network.

By August 2013, all of the four major television networks in the US will have their own national sports network.

Before the debut of ESPN in 1979, the only sports coverage available to the American viewer were those on the major and regional terrestrial networks, most of which could not air them live due to programming concerns. Nowadays more and more sports events were being aired live on a daily basis, thanks in part to the growth of cable and satellite television and the establishment of more television networks devoted to sports coverage. But where did it all start?

Bill Rasmussen, his son Scott, and Ed Eagan founded ESPN in September 1979. Originally known as the ‘Entertainment and Sports Programming Network‘, ESPN overcame a shaky financial start to position themselves as the ‘Worldwide Leader in Sports’. Its flagship program SportsCenter became the first news program dedicated exclusively to sports coverage. In the years that followed, ESPN became a global conglomerate, launching sister networks ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPN Radio and ESPNEWS, along with establishing global networks in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia.

In 1996, the Walt Disney Company acquired a majority stake on ESPN. Gradually ESPN programming were integrated to ABC, starting a long-term integration that eventually became the ESPN on ABC. Today ESPN’s sports properties included the NBA, Major League Baseball, college football, NFL’s Monday Night Football, college basketball, WNBA, and NASCAR. ESPN was also instrumental in bringing the X Games to the American mainstream; beginning in 1995, the X Games were being held annually during the summer and winter months, even sprouting international versions along the way.

As ESPN prospered during the 1980s, regional sports networks were also being established to provide extensive coverage of the local teams and other sports. Currently there are two major regional sports networks in the United States: Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet. Fox Sports Networks, originally Fox Sports Net, acquired the SportsChannel and Prime networks in the late 1990s and eventually integrated the Fox Sports name and identity. Comcast SportsNet had its roots in Philadelphia as the Prism Network, before taking the current name in 1997. Soon after CSN either replaced or acquired assets of other regional networks in Washington D.C., Chicago, New England, San Francisco Bay Area and Oregon. In 2011, parent company Comcast acquired a majority stake on NBCUniversal, eventually integrating CSN to the NBC Sports Group. Other regional sports networks active today include the MSG networks in the New York area, Root Sports, the YES Network, NESN, and Time Warner Cable Sports.

As sports coverage grew, so did the urge of forming their own national sports network. The CBS Sports Network had its roots as the National College Sports Network. Formed in 2002, the network focused mostly on coverage of college sports. After CBS acquired the network in 2008, it was renamed into the CBS College Sports Network before adopting its current name in 2011 in an effort to add more sports coverage. Currently the network airs the NBA Development League, Arena Football League and extensive US Open coverage, aside from college sports. CBS Sports coverage of the NFL, the US NCAA and professional golf were also given supplementary coverage by the network.

The NBC Sports Network had its roots as the Outdoor Life Network, founded in 1995. As the name suggests, the network aired mostly outdoor adventure programming. By the time it was renamed Versus in 2006, it had supplanted outdoor-related programming in favor of sports coverage. In 2011, Versus’ parent company Comcast acquired NBCUniversal, and gradually integrated NBC Sports programming to the network, culminating in the launch of the NBC Sports Network on New Year’s Day 2012. Currently the network airs the NHL, Major League Soccer, Formula One and Indycar racing, the English Premier League, the summer and winter Olympics, and various college sports.

In the summer of 2013, Fox planned to establish a new national sports network. The new network Fox Sports 1 is expected to make its debut in August and will air extensive coverage of Major League Baseball, club and international soccer, college sports, NASCAR and other racing events, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The new network replaces Speed, a sports network devoted to auto racing. Fox also planned to rename Fuel TV as Fox Sports 2 in the near future.

With the debut of Fox Sports 1, all of the ‘Big Four’ television networks in the US will have their own sports network. Today’s sports coverage in the US is vastly different from where it was in the 1970s, all due to technological advancements, viewer population and the growth of professional and college sports as a business. And it only continues to grow in the future.

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