Philippines, Sports, television

Sports5’s Doubtful and Desperate Future

The ‘Road to Rio’ will be a bumpy one, as TV5 essentially sacrificed its entire programming lineup just for the coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics. This year’s Olympics could decide the future of Sports5 as well. (Photo credit: PhilStar.com)

These are indeed desperate times for TV5.

It has been over a month since the Kapatid network ‘demolished’ (for the lack of a better term) almost its entire programming lineup in favor of unlimited ‘foreignoy’ movies and home shopping blocks. And while their decision may seem ridiculous, they were essentially preparing this demolition job for one particular event.

Enter the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Summer Olympics in Rio will be the fourth such event for TV5, following the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing. As early as now, TV5 is going all out, because as far as they were concerned, this could be their last chance to prove their worth as a force in Philippine sports.

Anyone who has followed TV5 over the years know how much a sports fan Manny V. Pangilinan is. The businessman is best known in the sports world as:

  • owner of three PBA teams (Tropang TNT, Meralco Bolts, NLEX Road Warriors)
  • bankroller of two collegiate teams (Ateneo Blue Eagles, San Beda Red Lions)
  • one-time president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas
  • benefactor of Gilas Pilipinas

His work on TV5 was also an extensive one. Between 2011 and 2012, the Kapatid network snared the rights to several top-flight events, which include the following:

  • Philippine Basketball Association
  • United Football League
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (Philippines)
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (United States)
  • Olympic Games
  • National Football League’s Super Bowl
  • Gilas Pilipinas basketball games

At first, MVP collaborated with IBC-13 for a blocktime deal that became AKTV. But when cash flow problems surfaced, he ended the blocktime agreement and was forced to utilize both TV5 and AksyonTV for their sports coverage.

Unfortunately for TV5, they encountered greater problems in handling such coverage. As a result, their entertainment programming was extremely compromised, while news programs on AksyonTV gradually eroded to the point that they were either cancelled or preempted.

Although the network managed to take advantage of the all-sports channel HYPER on its Cignal subscription service, it is clear that Sports5’s problems are becoming increasingly hard to overcome. Which leads to 2016, the year where the network’s contracts with the PBA, Olympics and the UFL are up for either renewal or expiration.

Considering these irreparable problems, the smart choice of action for TV5 at this point is to not renew their contracts with the said events. But with other networks enduring a variety of obstacles themselves, and with ABS-CBN Sports all too loaded to commit for more events, all signs point to a reluctant renewal.

So what’s next for Sports5? No one knows, but for the next several months, their busy schedule will be an evaluation process to see if they still have what it takes to be a big-time player in Philippine sports.

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TV5 A Wreck Under the MVP Ownership

Manny V. Pangilinan’s ambitious ventures turned out to be disastrous for TV5, and the network is now on an identity crisis. (Photo credit: Philstar.com)

Any improvement on TV5 is now an impossible dream.

In just two weeks, TV5 went from being a promising station to a shell of its former self. Even sister station AksyonTV is feeling the sting of TV5’s seeming downfall.

Much of the blame is centered on its owner, Manny V. Pangilinan. The businessman known as MVP purchased TV5 back in 2010 and was promised to improve the station in a few years’ time.

But instead of upgrading its signal strength and nationwide reach (a weakness of the then-ABC 5 during the ownership of Tonyboy Cojuangco), Pangilinan chose to revamp TV5’s programming and facilities in order to better compete with ABS-CBN and GMA. Unfortunately, MVP’s ambitious moves did not result in immediate success, and TV5 soon encountered turbulence.

TV5 first tried to form its own stable of artists (mostly veterans like Sharon Cuneta and Willie Revillame), and produced some programs that could have given ABS-CBN and GMA a run for their money. It failed, and not even the intervention of Vic del Rosario and VIVA Entertainment made a difference.

The Kapatid network then acquired the broadcast rights to some big-name sporting events (e.g. PBA, Olympics, FIBA World Cup) and even managed to strike a blocktime deal with IBC-13 (named AKTV) to aid in his quest. However, AKTV was a financial failure, and Sports5 had no choice but to air them on TV5 and AksyonTV, which proved to be detrimental to both networks.

Next in TV5’s agenda was the improvement of its news division, thus the establishment of AksyonTV and Radyo5 92.3 News FM. Despite the numerous awards given to them, News5 was criticized for its overemphasis on tabloid-style news reporting, as well as mismanagement from within.

Finally, TV5 invested in the satellite subscription service Cignal, and by 2015, it reached its target of 1 million subscribers. Still, its channel lineup remains paltry in comparison to its older cable competitor SkyCable.

Overall, the attempt to turn TV5 into a broadcast giant in the mold of ABS-CBN and GMA turned out to be a failure. Today, their programming as a whole is back to what the Cojuangco-era ABC 5 used to air, with a lot of TV shopping blocks, imported programming and movies, and in the case of Radyo5 92.3 News FM, too many vacant slots.

Now that TV5 is back to where they started, what will be the next move for MVP? Having wasted a lot of money making some ambitious yet unsuccessful ventures, it’s about time for his network to tear down and start over, or else the inevitability of bankruptcy or sale will soon hang over his head.

The next move starts now, MVP. Do the right thing and save TV5 from collapse.

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