Philippines, Sports, television

No More: Solar Sports Not Involved in Pacquiao Fight vs. Matthysse

For the first time since 2006, a new Manny Pacquiao fight was not aired on Solar Sports.

Manny Pacquiao’s latest bout, a seventh round knockout win over Lucas Matthysse to capture the WBA Welterweight Title, was conspicuously absent from Solar Sports programming. The reason: MP Productions, led by Arnold Vegafria, chose not to sign a broadcast deal with Solar Sports for the aforementioned event.

The last time Solar Sports was not involved in the broadcast of a Manny Pacquiao fight was in 2006. That year, ABS-CBN exclusively aired Pacquiao’s fight with Oscar Larios which took place in the Philippines.

In the months leading up to the bout, Solar Sports aired some of Pacquiao’s classic matches every Friday night in hopes of getting a call from Arnold Vegafria. But when the network announced its upcoming list of programs for July 2018, Pacquiao vs. Matthysse was nowhere to be found.

No reason was given behind MP Productions’ decision. However, considering that Solar Sports is now airing less popular sporting events and the circumstances that followed Pacquiao’s loss to Jeff Horn last year, it only made sense for MP to cease ties with the said network.

On a related note, MP was able to secure television deals with ABS-CBN, The 5 Network, GMA, SkyCable and Cignal for the broadcast and distribution of Pacquiao vs. Matthysse. This marked the first time since the heavily-hyped Pacquiao bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015 that the Philippines’ three broadcast giants collaborated for the occasion.

Luckily for the three networks, Pacquiao secured his first knockout victory since 2009. The win came as a surprise to many considering Pacquiao’s age (the fighting senator is 39), his lack of power punching ability relative to his age, and his decision not to have long-time confidant Freddie Roach as his trainer for the bout.

Unfortunately for Solar Sports, Pacquiao’s victory was not only a lost opportunity but also the last straw. Manny Pacquiao bouts had been Solar Sports’ last ticket to relevance in recent years, but without him and his drawing power, the network is now fighting for survival.

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Philippines, Sports, television

The Latest on Basketball TV: NBL and PCCL

Basketball TV is still alive and well.

Despite the spate of problems that plagued the network this year, it appears that BTV is soldiering on. And recently, two new basketball leagues were added to BTV’s portfolio.

Australia’s National Basketball League came to BTV last October. Founded in 1979, the eight-team league consists of teams from Australia and New Zealand.

BTV’s acquisition of the NBL is seen as a response to ABS-CBN Sports’ addition of the ASEAN Basketball League and the loss of FIBA basketball to ESPN5. After all, with the network being derided as a poor man’s NBA Premium TV, they needed to tap into other international leagues to stay relevant, hence the NBL.

However, this is not the first time that the NBL made its way into Philippine shores. During the mid to late 2000s, ESPN Star Sports had the rights to showcase Australia’s top professional basketball league.

With that, the addition of the NBL should give Filipino hoop fans another reason to go beyond the NBA when it comes to finding great basketball talents. However, the NBL is not the only league that BTV added.

Earlier this week, BTV announced that they will also air games of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League alongside Fox Sports Philippines. The PCCL will make its return after a one-year absence due to various logistical issues.

The 2017-18 edition of the PCCL will not only feature the customary 5-on-5 national tournament that will determine the national collegiate champion, but also a 3-on-3 national tournament. Fox Sports will air the 3-on-3 games, while BTV will have the rights to the 5-on-5 tournament.

BTV is no stranger to the PCCL tournament. The network (along with Solar Sports) had the rights to air the PCCL during the mid-2000s, after which ABS-CBN Sports acquired the PCCL rights to capitalize on the popularity of UAAP and NCAA basketball.

However, ABS-CBN and the PCCL organizers decided to cut ties in 2017 amid questions surrounding the league’s credibility. The entire 2017 tournament was canceled and it was not until November that the PCCL resurfaced with new partners BTV and Fox Sports Philippines.

One can only hope that these new acquisitions will serve BTV well in the near future. If not, fans should look forward to their next moves.

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Philippines, Sports, television

NAASCU Returns to BTV

Basketball TV is not giving up just yet.

Parent network Solar Entertainment announced that BTV will broadcast the upcoming National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) seniors basketball tournament starting tomorrow. A total of 16 schools will participate in the league’s 17th season, which will include newcomers Holy Angel University, De La Salle Araneta University and St. Francis of Assisi College.

Both Solar and the NAASCU first entered into a partnership last season that saw all games aired on BTV and Solar Sports. The 16th season saw Saint Clare College of Caloocan win both the seniors and juniors basketball tournaments.

But as they enter the second year of the deal, Solar and the NAASCU know that it will not be easy following up last season’s success. While last season saw more viewers tune in to NAASCU games, this season should see a significant reduction now that Solar controversially pulled its channels out of SkyCable last April.

There are also pressing concerns about Basketball TV’s commitment and ability to produce local basketball coverage on a regular basis. Back in February, they tried to follow up the NAASCU by airing the lone season of the NCRUCLAA basketball games, but the network backed out after only a month.

It also remains to be seen if Solar Sports will once again play backup to BTV for this season’s NAASCU tournament. As of today, the network not announced their plans to air the NAASCU basketball games.

With the loss of its biggest asset as well as criticism surrounding their non-NBA broadcasts, can Basketball TV and Solar hold on to their promise of delivering the best NAASCU coverage? It will be interesting to see how this season plays out.

The 17th season of the NAASCU opens tomorrow, with the seniors basketball doubleheaders airing at 3:00 p.m. weekly on Basketball TV.

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news, Philippines, politics, Sports, television

PTV-4’s PFL Coverage in Hot Water

The PFL’s live matches are currently aired on PTV-4, but speaking engagements of President Rodrigo Duterte have often interrupted their coverage. (Logo courtesy of the Philippines Football League)

There is trouble brewing in the Philippines Football League.

The first season of the fledgling soccer league is currently broadcast on government-owned People’s Television Network (PTV-4), but so far, soccer fans were not happy with the network’s treatment of the matches. In more than one instance, live broadcasts of the PFL were rudely interrupted by President Rodrigo Duterte’s speeches to the nation.

As the only government television station, it is always mandatory for PTV-4 to broadcast each and every live appearance of the president. But if it takes place in the middle of a sports event such as the PFL, fans have every right to complain and voice their disapproval to the network.

 

The PFL is a young and promising league, and television coverage is a must for them to gain further awareness from not only the growing soccer community, but also the general public. But with the way that PTV-4 has treated them, there is a possibility that their relationship could end after only a season together.

If PTV-4 were smart enough to realize the advancements in technology, they should have provided the PFL with a free live stream platform so that the matches can continue online with no interruptions. Unfortunately, the network is still on a rebuilding phase as they focus on the improvement of current facilities and nationwide reach.

So where will the PFL go to? There are plenty of options, but there are some pros and cons.

ABS-CBN Sports has had a history of raising the profile of some of the sporting events they broadcast, but with their commitments already too loaded, there may be no room for the PFL to showcase their matches. Sports5, whose previous soccer experience is with the defunct United Football League (UFL), is also an option, but their reach is questionable.

Solar Sports is also a possibility, but their pullout from media giant SkyCable as well as Solar Entertainment’s financial troubles may also come to play. There is also Fox Sports Philippines with three different channels to choose from, but fitting in may be an issue.

As for GMA, don’t think about that anytime soon because Felipe Gozon and company have no interest in returning to the sporting arena full-time. If all else fails, they can stick around with PTV-4, as long as the network improves its approach.

The PFL has a long way to go before becoming the legitimate national soccer league in the Philippines. But to do so, they need the benefit of television to boost their morale, and so far the start has been anything but impressive.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Pacquiao vs. Horn: A Different Feel

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn will have somewhat of a different feel for viewers.

For many years, Manny Pacquiao fights were among the most highly-anticipated events in the world. In the United States, Pacquiao fights equal to millions of pay-per-view buys, and in the Philippines, it amounts to thousands of packed venues and a lighter-than-usual traffic.

But after the lukewarm reception of Pacquiao’s previous fight with Jesse Vargas, it is clear that interest in his fights are waning. After all, Pacquiao is closing in on 40 years of age and it seems that his best days as a power-punching weapon were now behind them.

Which is why in the United States, pay-per-view is no longer an option in the Pacquiao-Horn fight. Realizing the decline of interest in his fights, promoter Top Rank announced that the aforementioned bout will air on a basic cable channel in ESPN, hoping that a switch to a more readily available medium will rekindle interest in him.

Over in the Philippines, the Pacquiao-Horn fight will still be aired live on pay-per-view. ABS-CBN will hold exclusive pay-per-view rights to Pacquiao vs. Horn after signing an agreement with manager Arnold Vegafria last June 9, which also includes video-on-demand, internet and mobile broadcasts.

Due to ABS-CBN’s exclusivity, rival cable and satellite companies have no choice but to agree to the broadcast giant with regards to the carriage of the fight. This includes Cignal TV, a main rival of ABS-CBN affiliate SkyCable.

Meanwhile, GMA will have the rights to free TV and radio coverage of Pacquiao vs. Horn, after signing its own deal with Vegafria the following week. But like many Pacquiao fights aired on the network, the bout with Horn will be seen on a delayed basis, with plenty of commercial placement to boot.

As for long-time Pacquiao rightsholder Solar Sports, they will still air his fight with Horn on a delayed basis as well. However, Solar Entertainment will no longer play a key role in distributing the event on pay-per-view after ABS-CBN’s acquisition of rights.

While the Pacquiao-Horn fight will not be as highly anticipated as previous Pacquiao bouts, viewers can still expect a very entertaining contest. Father Time may be catching up to Pacquiao, but the ‘fighting senator’ should still be at his very best come fight time.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn, the Battle of Brisbane, will take place this Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. It will be held live at the Suncorp Stadium.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

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.

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