This March, the US NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, more popularly known as ‘March Madness’, will be shown in the Philippines via the networks of TV5. The Kapatid network’s acquisition of March Madness gives the event some much-needed exposure on free TV, something that its previous coveror could not afford. But how did TV5 earn their ticket to ‘March Madness’?
For several years, coverage of March Madness was given to Solar Sports via its all-basketball channel Basketball TV. In addition to the NCAA tournament, the network also aired select regular season and postseason games from popular conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, and the Pacific-10 (later Pacific-12) Conference. However, when BTV did not air any US NCAA college games this year, the March Madness coverage in the country was put into question.
Looking back, there were some shortcomings to BTV’s coverage of March Madness, and of US NCAA basketball in general. Because the network’s primary focus is on the NBA, coverage of regular season college basketball was restricted to tape-delay broadcasts, unlike in Fox Sports Philippines (formerly ESPN) where it can air the games live. Then come March Madness, BTV would be forced to tape-delay NBA games and air a minimum of one game per round, alienating some rabid NBA fans and even college basketball viewers.
With mounting pressure from its viewers, Solar and Basketball TV had no choice but to finally drop the US NCAA college basketball from its lineup. It wasn’t until late February that Sports5 decided to step up, announcing that it has acquired the rights for the US NCAA March Madness. Its announcement came just as the 2014 Winter Olympics on the Kapatid network was about to finish.
Sports5’s coverage of the US NCAA March Madness include free TV broadcasts of select games on TV5 and AksyonTV 41, complementary live broadcasts on cable network Hyper and Cignal HD pay-per-view, and live streaming though PLDT’s broadband services. This means that more games will be offered in each platform, giving college basketball fans additional options to watch their favorite US NCAA schools run towards the championship.
Now that TV5 and its affiliates will have the rights to the US NCAA March Madness, the countdown to the most highly-anticipated college basketball tournament in the world is underway. And college basketball fans can’t wait to watch.