Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Tipid Mode: ABS-CBN’s Call of NBA Finals No Longer On-Site in Recent Years

Talk about cutting costs.

In case no one has paid attention yet, the Filipino-language commentary of the 2018 NBA Finals on ABS-CBN Channel 2 is currently held inside the network’s studios in Quezon City. No, not in Oakland, California or in Cleveland, Ohio.

Unless you’re TJ Manotoc who made the trip to the U.S. alone for the past five years (this year’s Finals will be his first since getting the call to join ABS-CBN’s North America Bureau), the commentators have stayed home for the most part. And there are reasons why they were no longer required to take the trip stateside to call the Finals.

First off, there are concerns surrounding budget. Considering the network’s long-term vision of digitalization, anything that involves plane tickets, hotel reservations, visas and working permits for at least a three-week trip may be too much of a burden for ABS-CBN.

It also did not help that the NBA returned to a 2-2-1-1-1 setup for the Finals starting in 2014. Going back and forth to different cities between Games 4-7 only adds to the cost.

Next, ABS-CBN is on a tight schedule. They made the NBA Finals available in both Channel 2 and S+A (and in different commentary languages) for this particular reason because the former has a strict schedule to follow, whereas the latter has greater flexibility with it.

In the case of overtime games like what happened in Game 1 last Friday, Channel 2 immediately ended its broadcast within minutes of the final buzzer in order to make way for ‘Sana Dalawa ang Puso’. This means that the local commentators would have no choice but to immediately bid farewell rather than dive deeper into the game.

And finally, ABS-CBN changed its commentary approach in the Finals in order to appeal to the masses. Which is why, whether traditional basketball viewers liked it or not, they hired Benjie Paras to join alongside Ronnie Magsanoc and Boom Gonzalez in order to describe the game in a simpler manner to fit the average Filipino’s needs.

Sending this trio stateside may be awkward to begin with considering their more liberal and oftentimes unorthodox style of commentary. But they were promoted to call the Finals for a reason: to make the NBA game easier for Filipino masses to understand.

With all due respect to the likes of Quinito Henson and Andy Jao (who were the first to actually call an NBA Finals direct from the U.S.), times are really changing. And ABS-CBN’s rather radical decision to stay home than call the Finals stateside may be their wisest decision yet considering their plans for the long-term.

People may not like this new approach but there is no other option. ABS-CBN is thinking about the future, and viewers must understand it.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

A Filipino Viewer’s Guide to the 2018 NBA Finals

Cavs and Warriors, again.

An unprecedented fourth consecutive meeting in the NBA Finals awaits the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. On one side, the Warriors look to seal their status as a modern-day dynasty, while on the other, the Cavaliers attempt to once again even this long-running saga.

For this year, Filipino viewers will have three different options to watch the NBA Finals. Here are the following ways to experience the Finals.

ABS-CBN Sports

Both ABS-CBN Channel 2 and S+A will simultaneously air the NBA Finals live. Viewers on Channel 2 will hear Filipino commentary hosted by Boom Gonzalez, Ronnie Magsanoc and Benjie Paras, while S+A will use English commentary from ESPN in the U.S., anchored by Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Doris Burke.

Much like more recent NBA Finals broadcasts, Channel 2’s Filipino commentators will call the games straight from the ABS-CBN headquarters in Quezon City. In addition, TJ Manotoc will file reports on-site on news regarding the championship series.

Basketball TV and NBA Premium

The NBA Finals will also be delivered live on Basketball TV and NBA Premium, with both channels using English commentary from ESPN. In addition, BTV and NBA Premium will air extensive pre-game, post-game and off-day coverage of the Finals via NBA TV.

Basketball TV and NBA Premium are currently exclusive to Cignal and Cablelink subscribers only. The two channels are also available on digital TV via the EasyTV digibox (P2999 for purchase and P999 for renewal of subscription), but only for Metro Manila residents.

NBA League Pass

Basketball fans on the go can also watch the NBA Finals on their mobile devices via NBA League Pass. NBALP can be accessed via the NBA Game Time App on Google Play or Apple Store.

For more information on NBA League Pass, visit the NBA official website. For a step-by-step guide on subscribing to NBA League Pass, click the following links for Globe, Smart, PLDT and SkyCable subscribers.

If the last three meetings were of any indication, then expect another compelling battle between the Warriors and Cavs. Still, it remains to be seen if LeBron James will be able to sustain his seemingly one-man act against a deeper and stronger Warriors squad that has won two of the first three championship series.

Either way, NBA fans are in for a treat. Good luck.

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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.

NOT: ESPN5

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.

NOT: PFL on PTV-4

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.

HOT: NBA on ABS-CBN

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.

NOT: WWE on FOX

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.

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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.

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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

Live Blog: 2017 ASEAN Summit on ANC (Part I)

The 2017 ASEAN Summit is up and running, as heads of ASEAN nations as well as other world dignitaries converge to discuss various political issues that affect both their countries and the world. At around the same time, the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit also takes place, focusing on business concerns surrounding the ASEAN region.

The ABS-CBN News Channel and CNN Philippines are the primary channels that will cover in detail the ASEAN Summit. For this live blog, I will focus on ANC, so keep refreshing this blog for the latest updates on their coverage.

5:30-7:25 a.m.

ANC began its ASEAN coverage last Saturday night and stepped up its game further yesterday with a more detailed analysis on the event. ‘Early Edition’ kicks off Day 3 of the ASEAN Summit.

While I was still in bed, Annalisa Burgos, TJ Manotoc and Paolo Abrera are inside ANC’s main studio to begin the coverage. Co-anchor Michelle Ong is also live at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque.

During this time, the ‘Early Edition’ team conducted interviews related to the ASEAN Summit.

Also inside Solaire Resort and Casino is ‘Market Edge’ anchor Cathy Yang. She will anchor ‘Market Edge’ on location and conduct interviews with various business personalities.

7:25 a.m. 

Christian Esguerra is inside the 8 Rockwell studio for Matters of Fact. His guest, former Foreign Affairs secretary Roberto Romulo, speaks about Donald Trump, his relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte, the South China Sea, and other ASEAN-related issues.

7:49 a.m.

What’s buzzing on social media? Maria Isabel Lopez’s controversial bypass to the ASEAN lane generated plenty of reactions on social media.

Take it away, TJ.

8:00 a.m.

‘Headstart’ with Karen Davila is about to start. As always, ‘Headstart’ takes place inside the 8 Rockwell studio.

Her guest: ASEAN expert and columnist Karim Raslan. But first, headlines on the ASEAN Summit.

8:13 a.m.

Hot Copy with Karim Raslan starts now, and he’s taking on both sides of the ASEAN story.

While the interview was going on, I was eating my breakfast. All in all, watching ‘Headstart’ is like drinking my coffee to begin weekdays.

8:28 a.m.

Although there are no classes and work (at least in the Pasay-Parañaque area), the Philippine Stock Exchange will remain open during the entire ASEAN Summit week. ANC business reporter Warren de Guzman is already live-tweeting some stock market stats during this time, indicating that he will be inside the PSE to report on the stocks and foreign exchange figures.

8:40 a.m.

As I continue to watch ‘Headstart”s interview with Karim Raslan, I always think to myself that Karen Davila is a terrific interviewer. And like TJ Manotoc who goes between delivering news on ‘Early Edition’ and sports on S+A’s ‘The Score’, Karen is a multi-faceted personality that can shift from one particular medium to another.

After ‘Headstart’, some lunch and occasional tapings for ‘My Puhunan’, Karen would go to the main ABS-CBN Broadcast Center for DZMM’s ‘Pasada Sais Trenta’ in the afternoon and ABS-CBN’s ‘Bandila’ at night. A woman of many talents indeed.

8:52 a.m.

A live shot of the ASEAN Summit opening ceremony at the CCP Complex. Today and tomorrow will be a very busy one for our top dignitaries.

8:58 a.m.

Our beloved president greeting some of his fellow subjects at the CCP, as seen on ANC.

9:03 a.m.

We are back inside ANC’s main studio with Annalisa Burgos. Sometime later on Cathy Yang will make an appearance at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, so keep an eye on her.

Meanwhile, our beloved president greets more guests.

9:15 a.m.

Oh look, Cathy Yang is now LOL (live on location) at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. George Barcelon of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry is her first guest.

Meanwhile, more guests are arriving at the CCP.

9:22 a.m.

Lost in the hoopla of the ASEAN Summit is the announcement that the ABS-CBN Christmas Station ID will air at around 7:40 p.m. on ABS-CBN and its family of networks. And yes, our ANC anchors and reporters will be there wearing the Just Love shirts.

Meanwhile, our president continues to welcome his guests.

9:35 a.m.

Traffic is a concern at the ASEAN Summit with all the closed sections. Thank goodness ANC has a traffic report to keep us informed.

Over at the CCP, the Donald is in the building, Americana and all. Plus the stock market opens higher.

9:45 a.m.

ASEAN Summit opening ceremonies is about to begin any minute now. Stay tuned.

9:48 a.m.

Now underway.

9:53 a.m.

Uh-oh. Those anti-ASEAN Summit protests are at it again. Good thing the police are prepared.

9:55 a.m.

Our president now speaks at the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit.

Stay tuned for Part II.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

A Bilingual NBA Finals on ABS-CBN Sports

English or Filipino?

That has been a long-standing dilemma for NBA fans whenever the Finals begin. For the past several years, they have two options to choose from: free TV NBA Finals coverage featuring local commentators in the Filipino language, or cable TV NBA Finals coverage featuring American commentators in the English language.

This year is different, however.

For the 2017 NBA Finals, ABS-CBN decided to air every game live on its flagship Channel 2. As always, the broadcast on Channel 2 features Filipino-language commentary, led by Boom Gonzalez and TJ Manotoc who were assigned on-site.

But that’s not where it all ended. The network also elected to air the Finals live on S+A channel 23 as well, albeit with the use of American commentators in the English language.

The main reason behind this bilingual simulcast of the finals is simple: to cater to two types of NBA fans. After all, there are some fans who like the Filipino broadcast while others choose to listen to the more natural American broadcast.

The decision also stems from the controversy surrounding SkyCable and Solar Entertainment. Thanks to the sudden pullout of the latter’s Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV from SkyCable’s lineup, ABS-CBN has no choice but to air the English commentary of the Finals on S+A to benefit disgruntled subscribers.

However, for those who have Cignal and Cablelink in their service, there is no need to worry. Solar Entertainment’s Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV are also covering the NBA Finals in its original English form.

As of June 6, the Golden State Warriors are leading the Cleveland Cavaliers 2-0 in the 2017 NBA Finals. The Warriors are also undefeated in postseason play, with 14 wins through its 14 games.

Games 3 and 4 will take place this Thursday and Saturday respectively in Cleveland. If necessary, Game 5 (at Golden State) will be next Tuesday, Game 6 (at Cleveland) on June 16 and Game 7 (at Golden State) on June 19.

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