Looks like loyal followers of the PBA will have nothing to worry about as far as television coverage is concerned.
Yesterday, the league and Cignal joined forces to launch a 24-hour channel called PBA Rush. Available exclusively on Cignal SD channel 52 and HD channel 129, the channel will feature live PBA games, as well as special league-centric programming and classic games.
Prior to the official unveiling of PBA Rush, the channel had been airing in test broadcast since early July. During that period, it aired replays of the season’s two previous tournaments (Philippine Cup, Commissioner’s Cup), as well as the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament.
The decision to launch PBA Rush came at a not-so opportune time. The ongoing Governors’ Cup was to be the league’s last hurrah with TV5, and with the network enduring a lot of problems with its programming, it seems obvious that the PBA could be on its way out.
But where will the PBA go at this point? Here’s a look at how the other free TV channels stack up as far as the league is concerned (only VHF channels are listed here, as the PBA prefers to airs games on that platform only).
ABS-CBN – The Kapamilya network has expressed interest in airing the PBA games for a long time. However, what holds them back is their reluctance to air the games on primetime, the league’s long-standing decision to air games on VHF channels only, and the sports division’s loaded lineup.
PTV-4 – The PBA and the People’s Network are no stranger to each other, having been partners during the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. But with the network undergoing a rebuilding phase under PCOO secretary and former TV5 personality Martin Andanar, it is unlikely that a reunion will take place in the foreseeable future.
GMA/GMA News TV – Sporting events and GMA have been few and far between since the network switched from a rainbow logo to a rainbow-colored heart logo. And with the Kapuso network already in a spending binge thanks to the return of ‘Encantadia’, it is unlikely that GMA will pursue the PBA (and any other sporting event for that matter) anytime soon.
RPN-9/CNN Philippines – Before RPN-9 became the home of CNN Philippines, it used to air PBA games in the 1970s and more recently in the late 2000s. However, since CNN has content rights to the local version of the channel, there is no way that a reunion with the PBA will happen as long as they’re here.
IBC-13 – The PBA and IBC has had three different stints under three different partners: Vintage/VIVA TV, PTV-4 and Sports5. But with the embattled network currently up for sale, any further return is not in the cards for now.
That said, it is a safe bet that the PBA and TV5 will renew their contract soon after the conclusion of the Governors’ Cup. Then again, any contract renewal may no longer be a possibility, since the launch of PBA Rush essentially extended PBA’s relationship with TV5 for the foreseeable amount of time.
Still, it remains to be seen if the launch of PBA Rush will pay dividends. But let’s just hope that the channel will not pose a threat to Manny V. Pangilinan’s pocket.