More Trouble for Basketball TV with Delayed NBA Playoff Games

Basketball TV’s problems are as frustrating as ever.

Nearly a month after the channel unknowingly disappeared from SkyCable alongside fellow Solar Entertainment channels Solar Sports, Jack TV, NBA Premium TV and CT, viewers are now forced to deal with another concern. And this is something not as troublesome as a mere channel pullout, but is still an issue nonetheless.

Since the beginning of the NBA Playoffs, BTV has aired mostly tape-delayed games, particularly late in the first round and all of the conference semifinals so far. It appears that Solar has officially deferred to NBA Premium TV, FOX Sports and ABS-CBN Sports when it comes to all live playoff games, leaving BTV to air mostly highlights and press conferences.

BTV’s obvious inaction and lack of urgency angered a majority of viewers who expected the channel to deliver when it mattered the most. Many are unhappy with BTV’s delayed broadcasts of playoff games and overemphasis on press conferences and game highlights, and some even went as far as calling BTV ‘crap’ and ‘disgraceful’.

This latest bit of criticism only served to add insult to injury for one of Solar Entertainment’s most well-known channels. With ABS-CBN Sports now serving as the de facto source for NBA basketball to free TV, cable and satellite viewers, BTV is left helpless with the way they harshly treated the NBA Playoffs.

To Solar’s credit, they are still trying their best to give BTV an opportunity to showcase some NBA playoff games to the viewing public. It is the scheduling of these games, not to mention the long-standing issues with SkyCable, however, that leaves a lot to be desired.

That said, it is clear that Solar Entertainment is no longer a good fit to run Basketball TV (and NBA Premium TV for that matter) with all these issues involved. Unless they sell it to a more willing operator like ABS-CBN (click this article for more), expect BTV to endure more problems and criticisms in the coming months.

Solar Channels Unavailable on SkyCable, Plus FOX Loses WWE Rights to TV5

Bad news for NBA and WWE fans in the Philippines.

Since last week, Solar Entertainment channels Basketball TV, NBA Premium TV, Jack TV, Solar Sports and CT were unavailable on SkyCable. The message posted by the company is as follows:

SKY regrets to inform its valuable subscribers that Solar channels, namely NBA Premium, BTV, Jack TV, Solar Sports, and CT are temporarily not available. It is unfortunate that it has affected the airing of the NBA playoffs.

Solar has been our valued partner for many years. We are working with them for a resolution, but we cannot comment on the details of our discussions.

NBA fans, however, can continue to watch the playoff games beginning this Sunday, April 16, all through the finals via ABS-CBN Sports + Action and Fox Sports channel. They can check the updated schedules posted here.

The concerns of our subscribers and viewers are of utmost importance to us. Again, we offer our sincere apologies for the inconvenience.

The loss of Solar channels hit NBA fans hard, as Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV air a majority of the games daily per season. As a result, the NBA decided to appease the demands of viewers by assigning two games per day on ABS-CBN’s S+A channel, plus a select amount on Fox Sports Philippines and ABS-CBN Channel 2 while the situation is being fixed.

This is not the first time that SkyCable viewers vented their anger over the company’s issues with Solar Entertainment. In 2008, SkyCable pulled out Basketball TV, Jack TV and Solar Sports in favor of Creative Programs’ own channels due to an alleged television contract issue with Manny Pacquiao, but the channels were later reinstated.

Moving over to the world of sports-entertainment, FOX Philippines stunned Filipino wrestling fans by announcing that they will no longer carry WWE programs on the network after an attempt to negotiate a renewal failed to materialize. The statement can be seen below.

FOX had been a valued partner of the WWE since 2011, airing not only pay-per-views, 205 Live, NXT, Raw and SmackDown, but also complementary programs. However, the network drew the ire of some wrestling fans when it failed to air a select number of pay-per-views following the brand extension last July.

In a related development, TV5 announced that they have agreed to air WWE programs beginning April 30. No further details were made, but the network is expected to use Channel 5, AksyonTV and HYPER as vehicles to broadcast WWE events, both live and recap.

It remains to be seen if TV5 will do the same things that FOX used to do, but regardless, wrestling fans should rejoice this decision. Good luck.

What Happened to ABS-CBN Sports’ Top Rank Boxing?

An eight-year relationship came to an end when Top Rank Boxing ceased to air on ABS-CBN’s S+A earlier this month. (Logo courtesy of Top Rank)

A long-time ally of ABS-CBN Sports has called it quits.

On March 5, ABS-CBN Sports quietly cancelled the long-running boxing show ‘Top Rank Boxing’ off the network’s S+A channel. The announcement came shortly before the promotion decided to cease ties with Nonito Donaire after an eight-year relationship.

It can be recalled that in late 2009, ABS-CBN Sports and Top Rank joined forces in a broadcast deal that would showcase the latter’s top fighters. This resulted in ‘Top Rank Boxing’, a program that soon became a staple on Channel 23’s two iterations (Studio 23, ABS-CBN Sports+Action/S+A).

Airing every Sunday afternoon, ‘Top Rank Boxing’ gave boxing fans a peek at the promotion’s current and future stars. The show was hosted by Anton Roxas and Atty. Ed Tolentino for a majority of its seven-year run.

While most of the fights on the show were previously recorded, there were some occasions where a fight card was shown on a delayed basis. Not only that, some editions of ‘Top Rank Boxing’ were aired on ABS-CBN Channel 2, particularly the fights involving Nonito Donaire.

Despite its premise of showing the best fighters, there was one top boxer with which ABS-CBN Sports has no rights to. Manny Pacquiao, considered to be Top Rank’s biggest asset, has broadcast ties with both Solar Sports and GMA Network, thus prohibiting ABS-CBN from showcasing the Pacman.

Solar and GMA’s deal with Pacquiao also prevented ABS-CBN from airing Nonito Donaire’s final fight as a Top Rank fighter on November 6, when he fought Jessie Magdaleno in a losing effort. Despite that, ABS-CBN did air a Pacquiao fight when it showcased the mega-bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015 alongside TV5, GMA and Solar Sports.

With the cancellation of ‘Top Rank Boxing’, ABS-CBN Sports’ focus on the sport will shift full-time to Michael Aldeguer’s ALA Promotions. The ‘Pinoy Pride’ series, which continues to take place on certain dates of the year, will remain on the ABS-CBN Sports’ roster of programs.

As for Nonito Donaire, good luck in finding a new promoter. One can only hope that his fights will continue to air on Channel 2 for a foreseeable future, regardless of which promotion he ends up.

So long, ‘Top Rank Boxing. The Kapamilya boxing fans will miss you.

Solar Sports, BTV Cancel Airing of NCRUCLAA

A month after the season opened, Basketball TV and Solar Sports unexpectedly pulled the plug on the NCRUCLAA coverage. (Logos courtesy of the NCRUCLAA and Solar Entertainment)

A month after the season opened, Basketball TV and Solar Sports unexpectedly pulled the plug on the NCRUCLAA coverage. (Logos courtesy of the NCRUCLAA and Solar Entertainment)

The promising television coverage of the NCRUCLAA (National Capital Region Universities and Colleges of Luzon Athletic Association) came to an abrupt halt.

For some unknown reason, host networks Solar Sports and Basketball TV decided to stop airing the fledgling collegiate basketball league after only a month’s worth of coverage. No explanation was given with regards to the sudden cancellation, but a possible case of low funds may have come into play.

It can be recalled that the newly-established NCRUCLAA signed a television contract with Solar Entertainment in December of last year. The league, which consists of 16 member schools, opened its basketball season on January 17.

Both Solar Sports and Basketball TV tried its very best to seriously promote the NCRUCLAA. Unfortunately, the game’s delayed coverage and overwhelming amount of matches (quadruple-headers start at around 11:00 a.m.), lack of advertisers and conflicts with other programming took its toll, and by late February, both networks ceased airing the league’s games.

The issues of local basketball coverage is nothing new to Solar Entertainment. During their three seasons handling the PBA (2008-11), Solar lost a lot of money due to technical issues hounding their coverage of the league, and in their final season, they were forced to move to rival ABS-CBN’s Studio 23 following CS9’s rebrand to ETC.

Going further back, Solar also used to handle the defunct Philippine Basketball League for a few seasons. Unfortunately, the league’s internal issues affected both the coverage and the quality of the games, and the PBL soon disappeared by 2011.

While Solar did make amends when they aired NAASCU games without any incident last year, it was clear that the company can only go as far as Wilson Tieng can take them. Which leads to the abrupt cancellation of NCRUCLAA coverage, one that is once again giving Solar plenty of headaches.

That said, without the additional financial backing of rivals ABS-CBN Sports and Sports5, Solar Sports continues to find themselves in a predicament that is too steep to climb out. They may have had the privilege of covering NBA games and Manny Pacquiao fights, but local coverage-wise, they are still too far behind to make an impact.

FTT Year 2016 in Review: The 20 Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part III)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2017, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 20 moments that define the Philippine media this year.

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

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

Pinoy Boyband Superstar Answers To the Top

Last year, GMA created its own reality talent show for up-and-coming Filipino boybands, ‘To the Top’. This year, ABS-CBN struck back by bringing the ‘La Banda’ franchise to the Philippines under the name ‘Pinoy Boyband Superstar’.

Unfortunately for GMA, the popularity of ‘Pinoy Boyband Superstar’ far exceeded ‘To the Top’. The former constantly gained ratings of 30% or better while airing at a more convenient timeslot of 6:50 p.m., whereas the latter only mustered around 7-8% ratings while airing at a not-so attractive timeslot of 9:45-10:00 p.m.

Despite the success of ‘Pinoy Boyband Superstar’, it remains to be seen if BoybandPH can become a more popular boyband than Top One Project ever was. That said, the key to both boybands at this point is to outsell each other in order to win the hearts of fans.

Delamar Leaves RX 93.1’s The Morning Rush

‘The Morning Rush’ on Monster RX 93.1 is an institution in Philippine FM radio, having aired continuously for over two decades. So when Delamar Arias decided to leave both the show and the station on July 29, listeners, or ‘rushers’, were stunned.

After all, Delamar, along with long-time partner Chico Garcia and recent addition Gino Quillamor, were instrumental in the show’s success, with the ‘Top 10’ segment becoming the most popular segment. Her departure left a glaring hole on ‘The Morning Rush’, one they have struggled to fill since.

Delamar was not the only high-profile departure from the station. A few weeks later, Bea Fabregas left RX to focus on hosting FOX Sports Philippines’ ‘Fox Sports Minute’ and ‘The GOAT’, while Karen Bordador was arrested for alleged drug possession and was de facto removed from the station.

The Launch of PBA Rush, Plus UFC on TV5 and Olympic Coverage

If Solar Entertainment has NBA Premium TV, then TV5 has its own channel for the PBA in PBA Rush. Launched prior to the 2016 Governors’ Cup, PBA Rush is considered the Filipino version of NBA TV, featuring live and archived PBA games plus special programs dedicated to the league.

The timing of PBA Rush’s launch couldn’t have come at an important time, as that year’s Governors’ Cup saw Barangay Ginebra San Miguel end an eight-year title drought at the expense of the Meralco Bolts. Ginebra’s win would have concluded PBA’s run with TV5, but instead the partnership between the two was renewed in time for the ongoing Philippine Cup.

TV5 also made a high-profile acquisition when it purchased the broadcast rights to the UFC, promising it to air live on its HYPER channel. Unfortunately, TV5’s coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics was a difficult one, as the network struggles to deal with its decline in programming quality.

Other Sports Stories on TV

ABS-CBN Sports replaced the UFC by focusing on local and regional mixed martial arts, namely the Alvin Aguilar-led URCC, and the Southeast Asia-based One Championship. They also brought in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) as part of its continued commitment to local and regional sports.

Solar Sports dabbled into collegiate basketball by airing the NAASCU, while IBC-13 and AksyonTV aired the UCBL and CESAFI tournaments respectively. However, the biggest draws remain the NCAA and the UAAP, where the San Beda Red Lions and the De La Salle Green Archers won their respective championships.

Finally, in women’s volleyball, ABS-CBN Sports acquired the rights to the Shakey’s V-League, beginning a contentious rivalry between the V-League and the TV5-aired Philippine SuperLiga.

Be My Lady Reigns, Ryzza Mae’s Run Ends

‘Be My Lady’, topbilled by real-life couple Erich Gonzales and Daniel Matsunaga,was the top draw at the pre-noontime slot for much of this year. Airing for 221 episodes from January 18 to November 25, the series earned ratings of nearly 20%, besting the competition in the process.

The aforementioned competition included a pair of shows starring Ryzza Mae Dizon: ‘Princess in the Palace’, and ‘Calle Siete’. But with Ryzza already entering the pre-teen stage of her life, it was clear that she was no longer the charmingly cute presence of years past.

In the end, TAPE decided to cease starring her on the pre-noontime slot beginning October 24, and gave the BAES (along with Taki Sato) of ‘Eat Bulaga’ a lead role in ‘TROPS’.

Part IV of this four-part series is coming up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Despite Airing March Madness, US NCAA Remains Out of BTV’s Equation

Creighton star Kobe Paras may be making his presence felt in the U.S. NCAA, but the league's lack of popularity in his home country continues to be a problem. (Photo credit: Fox Sports Asia)

Creighton star Kobe Paras may be making waves in the U.S. NCAA, but the league’s lack of popularity in his home country continues to be a problem. (Photo credit: Fox Sports Asia)

It is obvious that U.S. college basketball will never get the respect it deserves from Filipino hoop fans.

Such is the case for the U.S. NCAA men’s basketball tournament. While top conference tournaments such as the ACC, PAC-12 and the Big 12 air regularly on the FOX Sports family of networks and Sports Illustrated Asia, one network in the Philippines is noticeably absent.

The network in question is Solar Entertainment’s Basketball TV, who back in April aired the U.S. NCAA Final Four and Championship games alongside Solar Sports. Unfortunately, the network’s emphasis on the more popular NBA once again put into question their commitment to air next year’s March Madness, let alone the entire U.S. NCAA season.

The last time BTV actually aired regular season U.S. NCAA basketball games was back in the 2012-13 season. This was also the last time the network aired March Madness prior to last April.

The history between the U.S. NCAA and Basketball TV date back to the fledgling network’s first season in 2006-07. Back then, the network was home to several popular conference tournaments, and they also aired a select number of March Madness games as well.

Unfortunately, U.S. college basketball failed to make an imprint in the consciousness of Filipino hoop fans. Unlike the UAAP or the Filipino NCAA where its rules are based on FIBA’s template (hence a faster style of play), the U.S. NCAA employs a unique set of rules such as 20-minute halves, 30 or 35-second shot clocks, and one-and-one free throw situations.

It also did not help that U.S. college basketball players are essentially obscure names. The fact is, for Filipino hoop fans, they will only gain popularity if they were drafted in the NBA and play well there.

That said, BTV’s decision to drop the U.S. NCAA coverage back in the 2013-14 season was the right choice considering its lack of popularity here. While it did manage to air the Final Four in April, it was done out of necessity since no other network was committed enough to air.

Although Creighton’s Kobe Paras is trying to lift the profile of U.S. NCAA basketball in the Philippines, one thing is clear. U.S. NCAA hoops will never become as popular as the NBA here, and that’s a painful fact.