entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Decision Time for the NBA on ABS-CBN

The 2014 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat will be shown on free TV’s ABS-CBN Channel 2, in the final year of its 3 1/2 year co-production deal with Solar Sports.

The NBA Finals begin Friday morning. And for ABS-CBN Sports, this will be their last chance to show NBA fans in the Philippines that they deserve to air the games live on free TV.

This year’s NBA Finals will mark the end of a 3 1/2 year co-production agreement between Solar Sports and ABS-CBN Sports. The agreement, signed in time for the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend, came after erstwhile coveror RPN/Solar TV decided to rebrand into ETC.

However, the Solar/ABS-CBN alliance proved to be problematic from the beginning. The Kapamilya network was criticized for broadcasting a majority of the games on a delayed basis, something previous partner RPN rarely did. Much of the blame was centered on the games aired on Channel 2, which prioritizes more on its news and entertainment programs rather than sports events like the NBA.

In fact, in the recent NBA Finals, Monday games that begin at 8:00 am Manila time were aired on a delayed basis simply because of Kris Aquino’s lifestyle show ‘Kris TV’. Perhaps ABS-CBN does not want to risk preempting her show, or that Kris was too influential for the network. In any event, these recent decisions by ABS-CBN Sports does not sit well with most fans.

Fans have also balked at how the NBA assigns its games to its global broadcast partners. In fact, this year’s playoffs saw less compelling series such as the Indiana-Atlanta and Brooklyn-Toronto series feature prominently on Basketball TV, while the Miami Heat and some of the Western Conference series were usually given to ABS-CBN Sports. Similar complaints also took place in more recent postseasons, thanks in large part to social media.

And there is also the bad case of lack of timing and advertisement overload. Ads such as KFC, Tanduay and Master astringents have interrupted game commentary prior to tipoff or a play, before the commercial break, and after a game. Perhaps the most insulting part of ABS-CBN’s repertoire is the fact that they cut any player interviews at halftime and postgame just to show sponsored highlights or game scores.

As the NBA Finals begin this Friday, a decision needs to be made with regards to the fate of the league’s Philippine free TV coverage. ABS-CBN should be in the running for renewal, since ratings for the NBA games have been very good despite numerous complaints.

Another possible contender may be Sports5, whose open slots in the morning may be more suitable to live NBA coverage than ABS-CBN’s. And while GMA may be considered a dark-horse contender, their lack of a sports division may prevent them from even bidding for NBA rights.

For now, the NBA coverage will remain with ABS-CBN Sports, at least until the end of this year’s Finals. But a decision regarding NBA’s free TV rights in the Philippines will have to begin as soon as possible. And basketball fans can’t wait.

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drama, Philippines, religion, talk show, television

What Will Happen to the Family Rosary Crusade on ABS-CBN?

The reformat of Studio 23 to ABS-CBN Sports + Action also affected religious programs such as the long-running ‘Family Rosary Crusade’.

The reformatting of Studio 23 to ABS-CBN Sports + Center has had some consequences, and that includes religious programming such as ‘The Word Exposed’, ‘Sunday TV Healing Mass’, ‘Friends Again’ and ‘Family Rosary Crusade’. Of the four, ‘Family Rosary Crusade’ has been aired the longest, and as a result of the reformat, its extremely loyal service to ABS-CBN is put into doubt.

‘Family Rosary Crusade’ has been on ABS-CBN since the network’s early days, starting with the ‘Family Theater’ presentations hosted by its founder, Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC. When ABS-CBN returned from the incarceration of Martial Law in 1986, ‘Family Theater’ also made a comeback under the title ‘Ang Pamilya Ko’, but poor viewership caused it to be cancelled, and was replaced by a magazine show simply titled ‘Family Rosary Crusade’. Even after Fr. Peyton died in 1992, FRC continued to air on Channel 2, before it was moved to Studio 23 in 2003 in favor of weekend general interest magazine shows.

Which leads to the current status of the FRC on ABS-CBN. Although the said program crossed over to other networks such as PTV-4, RPN-9 and ABC-5, ‘Family Rosary Crusade’ remains closely identified with ABS-CBN thanks to its lengthy loyalty and trust. And it is that loyalty that keeps FRC on the air for a long time. However, thanks to the reformat of Studio 23 into a sports-based network, the status of the FRC on ABS-CBN becomes unclear, and if the network decides to distance themselves from the FRC, it will cause uproar within the Catholic majority.

In my opinion, ABS-CBN should continue airing ‘Family Rosary Crusade’. Moving it back to Channel 2 before or after the Sunday TV Mass should keep Catholic viewers happy. And if not for the ‘Family Rosary Crusade’, ABS-CBN would not have positioned themselves as the No. 1 television network, because as they say, ‘The family that prays together, stays together’. And that’s a fact.

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