Korea, Philippines, Sports, television

In 100 Words: The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on ESPN5

After further deliberation, the home of the Olympics will remain in Mandaluyong.

TV5 (or more appropriately ESPN5) announced that they will cover the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea from February 9-25. This despite the fact that the network was criticized for their poor handling of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Redemption may be on the mind of ESPN5, but it will not be an easy one since the PBA and the FIBA Asia qualifying games will also take place during this time. Nevertheless, with Chot Reyes now on board, an increased emphasis towards live sporting events should help ESPN5’s cause.

The Philippine delegation will only have two athletes in figure skater Michael Christian Martinez and skier Asa Miller. Still, expect a much better (hopefully) showing by ESPN5 for this year’s Winter Olympics.

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entertainment, Latin America, Philippines, Sports

Rio Olympics on TV5: A Review

TV5’s coverage of the Rio Olympics was not a good one, as their free TV outlets failed to commit themselves to full-blown coverage. (Logos courtesy of the MVP Group and the International Olympic Committee)

The Olympic season has come to an end.

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics officially concluded yesterday with a colorful closing ceremony, followed by the turn-over of hosting rights to Tokyo, Japan. The close of the event capped off two weeks of unforgettable moments and problematic issues that tested Rio’s resolve and courage.

This year’s broadcast of the Rio Olympics was solely handled by TV5, and much like the games itself, it endured a lot of difficulties. Many expected TV5 to fill in most of their hours with Olympic coverage, yet they failed to do so.

Much of the blame is centered around their continued airing of TV shopping blocks, Tagalized movies and other entertainment programming during the two-week Olympic period (this does not include the PBA Governors’ Cup). TV5 should have preempted them just for the Olympics, but it never happened despite their best efforts.

Even sister station AksyonTV had its own share of issues, but to a lesser extent. While the Olympics were ongoing, they still showed the Philippine Super Liga finals, the PBA D-League playoffs, and the opening of the CESAFI basketball tournament, all of which were the network’s priorities.

However, during vacant hours, AksyonTV still showed a TV shopping block, ‘Relasyon’ and ‘Wanted sa Radyo’. They should have preempted them for Olympic highlights.

One thing in common about TV5’s free TV Olympic coverage was their inability to re-air events that were aired live in the wee hours of the morning. Rio’s time is similar to that of New York, and TV5’s failure to take account of the time difference and the lack of TV audience during that period proved to be their doom.

There were some positives in the network’s Olympic coverage, however. TV5, along with sister companies Cignal, PLDT and Smart, collaborated for a multi-platform broadcast that involved satellite and internet subscription.

Despite that, the free TV coverage of the Olympics remains important. Considering that not all people subscribe to Cignal, PLDT and Smart, TV5 should have prioritized their free TV platforms to benefit their competitors.

Overall, it was an F grade for TV5’s Olympic coverage this year. Their coverage was doomed from the start, and their poor planning effort was not what the viewers wanted to see from the so-called ‘Olympic Network’.

So where will the Olympic coverage in the Philippines go from here? The lack of suitable options will be biggest issue for the Philippine Olympic Committee, since a variety of issues hound all of the country’s free TV networks.

Regardless, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics is still four years away. That said, the POC will need to think about their options very well, and for the networks, good luck in trying to snatch the rights to the 2020 Games.

As for TV5, it was an opportunity that blew right before their very eyes. Now they should look forward for the long-awaited rebuilding process, one that should put them back on track.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Sports5’s Doubtful and Desperate Future

The ‘Road to Rio’ will be a bumpy one, as TV5 essentially sacrificed its entire programming lineup just for the coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics. This year’s Olympics could decide the future of Sports5 as well. (Photo credit: PhilStar.com)

These are indeed desperate times for TV5.

It has been over a month since the Kapatid network ‘demolished’ (for the lack of a better term) almost its entire programming lineup in favor of unlimited ‘foreignoy’ movies and home shopping blocks. And while their decision may seem ridiculous, they were essentially preparing this demolition job for one particular event.

Enter the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Summer Olympics in Rio will be the fourth such event for TV5, following the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing. As early as now, TV5 is going all out, because as far as they were concerned, this could be their last chance to prove their worth as a force in Philippine sports.

Anyone who has followed TV5 over the years know how much a sports fan Manny V. Pangilinan is. The businessman is best known in the sports world as:

  • owner of three PBA teams (Tropang TNT, Meralco Bolts, NLEX Road Warriors)
  • bankroller of two collegiate teams (Ateneo Blue Eagles, San Beda Red Lions)
  • one-time president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas
  • benefactor of Gilas Pilipinas

His work on TV5 was also an extensive one. Between 2011 and 2012, the Kapatid network snared the rights to several top-flight events, which include the following:

  • Philippine Basketball Association
  • United Football League
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (Philippines)
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (United States)
  • Olympic Games
  • National Football League’s Super Bowl
  • Gilas Pilipinas basketball games

At first, MVP collaborated with IBC-13 for a blocktime deal that became AKTV. But when cash flow problems surfaced, he ended the blocktime agreement and was forced to utilize both TV5 and AksyonTV for their sports coverage.

Unfortunately for TV5, they encountered greater problems in handling such coverage. As a result, their entertainment programming was extremely compromised, while news programs on AksyonTV gradually eroded to the point that they were either cancelled or preempted.

Although the network managed to take advantage of the all-sports channel HYPER on its Cignal subscription service, it is clear that Sports5’s problems are becoming increasingly hard to overcome. Which leads to 2016, the year where the network’s contracts with the PBA, Olympics and the UFL are up for either renewal or expiration.

Considering these irreparable problems, the smart choice of action for TV5 at this point is to not renew their contracts with the said events. But with other networks enduring a variety of obstacles themselves, and with ABS-CBN Sports all too loaded to commit for more events, all signs point to a reluctant renewal.

So what’s next for Sports5? No one knows, but for the next several months, their busy schedule will be an evaluation process to see if they still have what it takes to be a big-time player in Philippine sports.

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cable TV, entertainment, movies, news, Philippines, public affairs, radio, Sports, television, TV shopping

TV5 A Wreck Under the MVP Ownership

Manny V. Pangilinan’s ambitious ventures turned out to be disastrous for TV5, and the network is now on an identity crisis. (Photo credit: Philstar.com)

Any improvement on TV5 is now an impossible dream.

In just two weeks, TV5 went from being a promising station to a shell of its former self. Even sister station AksyonTV is feeling the sting of TV5’s seeming downfall.

Much of the blame is centered on its owner, Manny V. Pangilinan. The businessman known as MVP purchased TV5 back in 2010 and was promised to improve the station in a few years’ time.

But instead of upgrading its signal strength and nationwide reach (a weakness of the then-ABC 5 during the ownership of Tonyboy Cojuangco), Pangilinan chose to revamp TV5’s programming and facilities in order to better compete with ABS-CBN and GMA. Unfortunately, MVP’s ambitious moves did not result in immediate success, and TV5 soon encountered turbulence.

TV5 first tried to form its own stable of artists (mostly veterans like Sharon Cuneta and Willie Revillame), and produced some programs that could have given ABS-CBN and GMA a run for their money. It failed, and not even the intervention of Vic del Rosario and VIVA Entertainment made a difference.

The Kapatid network then acquired the broadcast rights to some big-name sporting events (e.g. PBA, Olympics, FIBA World Cup) and even managed to strike a blocktime deal with IBC-13 (named AKTV) to aid in his quest. However, AKTV was a financial failure, and Sports5 had no choice but to air them on TV5 and AksyonTV, which proved to be detrimental to both networks.

Next in TV5’s agenda was the improvement of its news division, thus the establishment of AksyonTV and Radyo5 92.3 News FM. Despite the numerous awards given to them, News5 was criticized for its overemphasis on tabloid-style news reporting, as well as mismanagement from within.

Finally, TV5 invested in the satellite subscription service Cignal, and by 2015, it reached its target of 1 million subscribers. Still, its channel lineup remains paltry in comparison to its older cable competitor SkyCable.

Overall, the attempt to turn TV5 into a broadcast giant in the mold of ABS-CBN and GMA turned out to be a failure. Today, their programming as a whole is back to what the Cojuangco-era ABC 5 used to air, with a lot of TV shopping blocks, imported programming and movies, and in the case of Radyo5 92.3 News FM, too many vacant slots.

Now that TV5 is back to where they started, what will be the next move for MVP? Having wasted a lot of money making some ambitious yet unsuccessful ventures, it’s about time for his network to tear down and start over, or else the inevitability of bankruptcy or sale will soon hang over his head.

The next move starts now, MVP. Do the right thing and save TV5 from collapse.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

1995 Flashback: The Beginning of the End for PTV’s Sports Coverage

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

Sports coverage on the People’s Television Network (PTV-4) was at its peak in 1995.

That year, PTV was the major broadcast home for the following events:

  • PBA 21st season (co-produced with Vintage Sports)
  • Chiang Mai Southeast Asian Games
  • UAAP Season 58 men’s basketball (co-produced with Silverstar Sports)
  • Philippine Basketball League
  • NCAA Season 71 men’s basketball (albeit sparingly)

Of the five events, the coverage of the Philippine Basketball Association was PTV’s biggest asset. After all, the PBA was at its peak of popularity during the PTV years, with sellout crowds a regular occurrence at the ULTRA (later PhilSports Arena) and later on at the Cuneta Astrodome.

But in 1995, all that would change in the blink of an eye.

(The final two minutes of PTV-4’s PBA coverage on December 19, 1995.)

As it turned out, the 21st PBA season would be the last to air on Channel 4 for nearly a decade. That season saw a near-grandslam for the Sunkist Orange Juicers, in which they won the All-Filipino and Commissioner’s Cups, only to finish third in the Governors’ Cup won by the following season’s Grand Slam winners, the Alaska Milkmen.

At this point, the PBA’s popularity was fading, despite returning to the now-Smart Araneta Coliseum after nearly a decade away. Thus, after the conclusion of the 21st season, Vintage decided to move the PBA coverage from PTV to the Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13), where they would drastically change their coverage in hopes of attracting the masses.

PTV’s sports portfolio gradually declined in the years following the loss of PBA coverage (the PBA did return to the renamed National Broadcasting Network in a failed partnership with IBC-13 in 2002).  Massive operating losses, along with competition from cable networks, forced Channel 4 to let go of broadcast rights to leagues such as the UAAP, and events such as the SEA Games and the Olympics.

Even though PTV Sports remained active through their coverage of lesser-known events, it is clear that they’re no longer a force in sports coverage. Today, PTV’s programming is more akin to a non-profit public broadcasting network, where they produce programs with little or no commercial support.

While the PBA is currently enjoying renewed popularity with Sports5, the years with PTV-4 will always be remembered as the glory days of the league. And even after the PBA left PTV for other networks in 1995, Channel 4’s partnership with the league will never be forgotten.

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