Philippines, Sports, television

Thoughts on the MPBL on ABS-CBN S+A

A new Filipino basketball league is about to take off.

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, founded by Senator Manny Pacquiao and his business manager Arnold Vegafria, will officially launch later tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The league’s maiden event will begin with an elaborate opening ceremony and a game between the Parañaque Patriots and Caloocan Supremos.

The league’s premise is simple: it consists of 10 teams located around Metro Manila and Luzon (with expansion to Visayas and Mindanao to follow soon) and it also aims to give grassroots athletes and aspiring basketball players a chance to showcase their skills and continue their basketball careers. These 10 teams are as follows:

  1. Parañaque Patriots
  2. Caloocan Supremos
  3. Batangas City Athletics
  4. Valenzuela Classic
  5. Navotas Clutch
  6. Muntinlupa Cagers
  7. Bataan Defenders
  8. Bulacan Kuyas
  9. Imus MPBL team
  10. Quezon City MPBL team

A home-and-away format will be followed so that teams can have a chance to play on their home court in front of their fans. In essence, the MPBL is a developmental league that is more similar to the NBA G League and is inspired from the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).

Let’s face it, the Philippines deserves another basketball league and something had to be done about the surplus of talent. Every basketball player dreams of making it to the PBA but what if there is little to no chance of earning a slot?

Also, what if basketball fans does not have the courage or the resources to watch a basketball game in faraway or big venues? This is exactly what the MPBL does: propagate the game of basketball closer to the fan while giving some undeserved talents a chance to prove their worth.

Not only that, the MPBL will get some much-needed exposure on national television via S+A, the sports channel of ABS-CBN. The said channel’s strong reach should benefit the MPBL a lot as it tries to gain the respect of Filipino basketball diehards.

It will be interesting to see how far this upstart league go. But for those who are worried that the MPBL could pose a threat to the PBA, don’t fret because they are only concerned about giving players opportunities while extending the careers of others.

Games of the MPBL will take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. It will be aired on ABS-CBN’s S+A channel.

Philippines, Sports, television

Barely Recognizable: PBA News Seldom Mentioned in Other Networks

Hardly mentioned: News surrounding the PBA is a seldom occurrence in ABS-CBN and GMA newscasts. (Photo credit: Philippine Basketball Association)

News surrounding the Philippine Basketball Association is hard to come by these days.

Once one of the Philippines’ national pastimes, the league has fallen on hard times in recent years due to a bevy of controversies. Nowadays, the PBA is barely mentioned at all in  TV networks outside ESPN5, a byproduct of declining interest that has alarmed the league of late.

One network, in particular, has repeatedly shunned the PBA when it comes to sports news. Enter ABS-CBN and its family of networks.

In ABS-CBN’s most recent year-end sports report, there was not even a single mention about the PBA. The network, in particular, failed to account the 50,000 or so crowd that saw Barangay Ginebra San Miguel win Game 7 of the Governors’ Cup finals over the Meralco Bolts, or the two championships won by the San Miguel Beermen last season, or the Christian Standhardinger-Chito Narvasa controversy.

It has been a pattern that is constant for the past several years. Instead of the PBA, ABS-CBN’s TV newscasts focused more on its sports properties such as the UAAP, NCAA, NBA and ABL, as well as national teams such as the Gilas basketball team and the Azkals football team.

In fairness, ANC’s Hardball, DZMM’s Fastbreak and ABS-CBN’s sports and news websites always make up for the newscasts’ oversight by mentioning and even talking about the PBA in greater detail. But even that is not enough to slap some sense in ABS-CBN’s mindset.

Now what about GMA? While they also report about the PBA on their news websites, they also do not mention the league’s news on their newscasts, and worse, they barely care about the world of sports at all since they do not even have a sports division.

Which leaves us to the only two networks that do take a look at the PBA on a regular basis: PTV-4’s ‘PTV Sports’ and CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’. Much like the PBA, they are hardly recognizable in the viewers’ consciousness, but at least they are doing their best to cover the league’s latest news with consistency and detail.

But for the two network giants in South Triangle, not mentioning the PBA on television is an disgrace to the league. Yes its popularity may have slipped of late due to these internal issues, but the PBA is still an important part of the Filipino sporting landscape and something needs to be done to rekindle the league’s interests.

Philippines, Sports, television, United States

FTT Year 2017 in Review: The Hot or Not Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part IV)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2018, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at some of the Hot or Not moments that define the Philippine media this year.

If you missed out on Part IPart II and Part III of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

Here is Part IV of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

HOT: PBA at Philippine Arena

The final three games of the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals were held at the Philippine Arena. Not surprisingly, the venue was packed to the rafters, thanks in large part to the presence of crowd favorite and defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

Ginebra went on to defeat the Meralco Bolts in seven games, with Game 7 becoming the highest-attended PBA game ever with over 54,000 spectators. The victory also gave San Miguel Corporation a perfect 3-for-3 in terms of championships in the 2016-17 PBA season, with the San Miguel Beermen having conquered both the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cup as well.


TV5 started 2017 by defiantly telling viewers to ‘choose courage’ in their station ID. By the end of the year, however, courage turned to cowardice as Chot Reyes gradually turned TV5 into a sports-oriented network and stripped whatever’s left of the station’s content.

The final straw came in October when TV5 signed a deal with ESPN to rename its sports division into ESPN5. Since then, the collaboration purchased the broadcast rights to the National Football League and U.S. NCAA college basketball to go along with local sports such as the PBA and the Philippine SuperLiga.

HOT: International Football on S+A

Already with the rights to the NBA, UAAP, NCAA, FIFA football, ABL and ONE Championship among other sports, ABS-CBN Sports acquired another big fish late in the year thanks to a collaboration with beIN Sport and Triple CH. The deal brought in the Premier League, La Liga and the UEFA Champions League to S+A.

The acquisition is, in many ways, beneficial to Filipino football fans who are craving to watch some of the world’s top footballers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for free. However, with football having one of the most expensive broadcast rights in the world, it remains to be seen if ABS-CBN Sports’ risk will become a reward.


Suffice to say, the inaugural season of the Philippines Football League did not work out on the television side. The league faced plenty of problems with coveror PTV-4, namely weather postponements and the unexpected live broadcasts of President Rodrigo Duterte’s speeches.

By August the PFL suddenly disappeared from television as it became fed up with PTV-4’s presidential priorities. With the first season already complete, perhaps the time is now to find a new broadcast partner for next season.


2017 was a surprisingly productive year for ABS-CBN’s NBA coverage. Beginning with the 2017 playoffs, S+A aired NBA games every day up until the finals, with a few dates reserved for doubleheaders.

Once the finals began, ABS-CBN Sports employed a simulcast on both Channel 2 and S+A. The former featured commentary from Boom Gonzales and TJ Manotoc live from the U.S. while the latter used the feed featuring ESPN announcers Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Doris Burke.

ABS-CBN also made NBA games available on S+A’s HD platform, which was previously separate and distinct from its SD counterpart. However, ABS-CBN’s surprise increase in NBA game coverage was just a reprieve for SkyCable subscribers, no thanks in part to a brewing controversy.

NOT: Solar Entertainment/SkyCable Controversy

It was deja vu all over again as Solar Entertainment pulled out its cable channels from SkyCable amid furor over NBA broadcast rights. The network claimed that ABS-CBN owed them millions of pesos for the rights to carry Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV.

The conflict remains unresolved as of now due to conflicting statements between the two parties. This left angry NBA fans with no choice but to switch over to other cable and satellite outlets or subscribe to NBA League Pass.

HOT: Sports News Programs on TV

2017 saw two new sports news programs debut on Philippine television. In January, the ABS-CBN News Channel premiered ‘Gametime’ with Migs Bustos at the helm, while in December, ESPN5 brought in ‘SportsCenter Philippines’ with Aaron Atayde, Lia Cruz, Magoo Marjon and Amanda Fernandez as its anchors.

Meanwhile, CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’ lost one of its pillars as Mico Halili announced his departure from the network amid rumors of a reorganization. Finally, PTV-4 announced that PTV Sports would return as a standalone program after nearly a year’s absence, with Dennis Principe once again at the helm alongside Meg Siozon and Angel Atienza.


Carriage issues also got in the way of WWE programming on FOX Philippines’ family of networks as it announced that they would cease ties with the wresting promotion after a six-year run. This was due to the two parties’ inability to agree on a renewal.

Shortly thereafter, TV5 announced that they would air WWE programs on their networks, but so far, only the condensed edition of SmackDown is currently on their lineup. As for Raw, the commercial-free 90-minute edition was made available on WWE’s YouTube page (for Philippine viewers only) while other programs can be seen via the WWE Network service.

Summary and Outlook

Overall, 2017 was both a challenge and an experience for media in the Philippines. Longstanding issues and pressing concerns were all over the place as each network tried its best to resolve each and every one of them.

Looking ahead to 2018, there are still plenty more challenges to conquer and some new tasks to take. The evolution in media does not stop here and From the Tube will continue to bring in the latest news in the world of broadcasting come next year.

In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Philippines, Sports, television

PBA to Open Season as Scheduled

The Philippine Arena will play host to the Manila Clasico between Ginebra and Magnolia this December 25. It hosted the last three games of the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup to record crowds. (Photo credit: The Philippine Star)

Good news for PBA fans.

The Philippine Basketball Association will open its new season this Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. It will be highlighted by the customary opening ceremonies and the kickoff game between defending Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beermen and the Phoenix Fuel Masters.

Opening the new season is important for the league even as it endured the controversy surrounding commissioner Chito Narvasa. Globalport governor Mikee Romero made it clear about the PBA’s importance to the masses.

“Hindi pwedeng mawala ang PBA sa Pilipino, or ang Pilipino mawala sa PBA. That’s why we’re all here. I think we’re a very solid group at this point in time. Come December 17, as what we promised — [one] that did not come from me, [but] from all 12 teams.”

“Any internal problems or whatever that we have, we will deal with it internally, within ourselves, within the 12 of us. We don’t want to elaborate or any more matters. As we told you, this Sunday, what we should be watching are the players, the superstars of PH basketball. 43 years, ang masasabi ko lang, let the games begin.”

The PBA was coming off an otherwise successful 42nd season where the San Miguel Beermen ruled the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cup, and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel won the Governors’ Cup. However, a controversial and disputed trade between the Beermen and Kia Picanto involving consensus top pick Christian Standhardinger led to chaos that took a month to resolve.

The opening of the 43rd PBA season will also benefit official broadcaster ESPN5 as well. Right after the PBA season opener, ESPN5 will premiere ‘SportsCenter Philippines’ as its leadout program, giving the latter a much-needed shot in the arm.

On December 25, the PBA will hold its annual Christmas Day games at the Philippine Arena, highlighted by the ‘Manila Clasico’ between Ginebra and Magnolia Hotshots (formerly the Star Hotshots). The rest of the league’s schedule will see the Philippine Cup last until March, followed by the Commissioner’s Cup from March to June, and the Governors’ Cup from June to September.

Let the games begin. Good luck.

news, Philippines, Sports, television

Dissecting the Filipino Sports News Landscape with Entry of SportsCenter Philippines

It has been an eventful month so far for sports news programs in the Philippines.

As of this week there are four weekday sports news programs that currently air on Philippine television. These include:

  1. The Score (ABS-CBN S+A) – anchored by TJ Manotoc
  2. Sports Desk (CNN Philippines) – morning edition anchored by Andrei Felix, evening editions anchored by Mico Halili
  3. Gametime (ABS-CBN News Channel) – anchored by Migs Bustos
  4. PTV Sports (People’s Television Network) – anchored by Dennis Principe, Meg Siozon, Angel Atienza and Arianne Mallare

On Sunday, December 17, a fifth program will emerge. As part of ESPN’s new deal with TV5, the network will officially premiere its version of ‘SportsCenter’, to be anchored by Aaron Atayde and Lia Cruz.

Before viewers can get excited about ‘SportsCenter Philippines’, here is a summary of how each current program brings to the table. These are ranked according to quality and depth.

Sports Desk

A holdover from Solar News Channel era, CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’ has by far the best content of sports news that is to offer. The program is not shy to tackle all the sports news that people should know, whether it is the UAAP, the PBA or even other local and international sports.

It also helps that it airs three times a day, at 11:00 a.m., 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on weekdays. However, with news of Mico Halili potentially departing CNN Philippines for perhaps a full-time role as a commentator with ABS-CBN Sports, can the show continue to deliver with regular substitute Paolo del Rosario?

PTV Sports

This program has been in and out of PTV-4’s lineup in recent years (remember Snow Badua?), but its latest iteration is simply a straight-up summary of the whole day’s worth of sports news. There are a few interviews here and there but other than that, they are more into quick bursts of reports.

However, as PTV-4 is a government station, there is a tendency for the program to be preempted whenever President Rodrigo Duterte makes an appearance on national television. Still, when the show does air, expect plenty of juice extracted in each report.

Gametime/The Score

Both shows are currently aired on ABS-CBN sister channels: ‘Gametime’ on ANC and ‘The Score’ on S+A. Unfortunately, they do not offer much in terms of sports news as they merely focus on sporting events currently handled by ABS-CBN Sports (e.g. UAAP, NCAA, NBA, ABL), not to mention they do not usually air live.

For those who seek a greater scope into sports news (albeit on a weekly basis), there is ‘Hardball’ on ANC and ‘Fastbreak’ on DZMM. It’s sad to say that both ‘Gametime’ and ‘The Score’ are a disappointment since ABS-CBN treated them like a showbiz news program that is biased towards a particular network’s artists.

So what expectations do people have for ‘SportsCenter Philippines’? For one, the show will premiere on a Sunday (a weekend no less) and it is assumed that the program will air seven days a week as opposed to a mere weekday airing that other shows do.

Also, with TV5 possibly rebranding into a full-on sports network as ESPN5, the network is expected to highlight ‘SportsCenter Philippines’ as its centerpiece program with all the sports news that people should know. That said, it will be interesting to see how this new player fares amid a crowd of sports-hungry fans.

Good luck to ESPN5. As for its competitors, there is no way to go but up.