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

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.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Pacquiao, Donaire Fight on the Same Night Sunday

Two for the price of one.

On Sunday, November 6 (Saturday, November 5 Las Vegas time), two of the Philippines’ best pugilists will fight on the same night. That’s right, for the first time ever, Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire will be on one card together.

The headline attraction will pit Pacquiao against Jessie Vargas for the WBO Welterweight title. Prior to that, Donaire will defend his WBO Super Bantamweight title against unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno.

Both Pacquiao and Donaire are considered one of the best boxers in the world. Their fights have become the stuff of legend, and each have the titles to back their claim.

However, they have never shared the same stage. That is, until this Sunday in Las Vegas.

For Pacquiao, his return to the ring came unexpectedly. After defeating Timothy Bradley in April, he initially announced his retirement in order to focus as a politician, but despite winning a seat in the Senate (with mostly negative reviews from critics), Pacquiao decided to give boxing another shot.

For Donaire, it will be his third defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title he won over Cesar Juarez in December of last year. Two weeks after Pacquiao’s victory over Bradley, Donaire successfully defended his belt against Zsolt Bedak.

As far as the Philippine broadcast rights go, that honor goes to Solar Entertainment and GMA Network, since Pacquiao is tagged as the headliner in this card. It will air on a delayed basis on GMA and Solar Sports, and live on Super Radyo DZBB 594 and all cable and satellite pay-per-view outlets.

For Donaire, it will be his first fight since 2009’s bout with Rafael Concepcion (which coincidentally aired on GMA) in which ABS-CBN does not have any television rights. The said network has owned the rights to all Top Rank cards that do not involve Pacquiao since 2010.

With two of the Philippines’ top-ranked boxers fighting on the same night, expect the millions to congregate and watch this unprecedented event blow-by-blow. But like Pacquiao’s last fight with Bradley, it remains to be seen if there are still believers in the Pacman.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

History of Manny Pacquiao Boxing Fights on Philippine TV

 

Before winning world championships in eight weight divisions, Manny Pacquiao was a regular fixture on the Vintage Sports boxing program ‘Blow by Blow’. (Screenshot courtesy of Vintage Television and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation)

It’s another Manny Pacquiao fight day this Sunday.

On November 23, Pacquiao will put his WBO Welterweight Championship on the line against WBO Light Welterweight titleholder Chris Algieri in Macau. The 64th bout in Pacquiao’s 19-year career is expected to be another blockbuster, both in the box office and on television.

But before that, here is a look back at the history of Manny Pacquiao’s fights on Philippine television.

The ‘Blow by Blow’ Years

From 1994 to 1999, the now-defunct Vintage Sports produced the weekly boxing program ‘Blow by Blow’, which was aired on both PTV-4 and IBC-13. It was in this series where Pacquiao began his boxing career, and with the exception of a knockout defeat by Rustico Torrecampo, Pacquiao dominated ‘Blow by Blow’ by winning every bout he participated in.

From Sasakul to Lucero

Despite the cancellation of ‘Blow by Blow’, Pacquiao continued his emergence in the boxing ranks. From 1998 to 2003, IBC-13 and Vintage, later known as Viva TV, televised and produced Pacquiao’s fights, which include his impressive knockout victories over Chatchai Sasakul (1998) and Lehlohonolo Ledwaba (2001).

The knockout victory against Mexico’s Emmanuel Lucero in 2003 would be the last Pacquiao fight produced by Viva, as Solar Sports would acquire the Filipino TV rights to every subsequent Pacquiao bout.

From Barrera I to Morales III

Most of Pacquiao’s fights have been televised on Solar Sports since 2003. They had to do it, however, with various free TV partners.

From 2003-05, RPN-9 solely televised Pacquiao fights, the most notable of which was the technical knockout victory over Marco Antonio Barrera in late 2003. After the Hector Velasquez bout in 2005, RPN continued to air Pacquiao fights through 2010, but by then they have deferred to other networks for tape delay broadcasts.

In 2006, ABS-CBN produced all of Pacquiao’s fights that year, including a pair of knockout victories over Erik Morales. But the following year, Pacquiao decided to sign with GMA as a contract artist, and as a result, the Kapuso network would take over as the official free TV coveror of Pacquiao fights, which remains to this day.

From Solis to Bradley II

Starting with the bout against Jorge Solis, all Pacquiao fights were televised on both GMA and Solar Sports. It was also with the Solis fight that Solar began to broadcast every Pacquiao fight on pay-per-view via Solar All Access, giving boxing fans an advanced opportunity to watch a Pacquiao bout in real time.

The GMA-Solar partnership was not without complications, however. Prior to Pacquiao’s fight against Ricky Hatton in 2009, a contractual issue between Pacquiao and Solar forced the boxer to re-sign with ABS-CBN, but after resolving the issue with Solar executives, Pacquiao chose to re-sign with Solar instead.

Even though Pacquiao is currently signed with Top Rank Boxing, the promotion elected to sign a television deal with ABS-CBN Sports later that year, with the Kapamilya network choosing to focus on Top Rank’s other top Filipino boxer, Nonito Donaire.

While they earned high ratings, GMA’s airings of Pacquiao fights became a heavily-criticized affair, owing mostly to the extended commercial breaks and overreliance on ad placements during each bout. As a result, ABS-CBN and other networks would take advantage of GMA’s uber-delayed broadcasts by announcing the winner as early as possible, just to benefit a majority of disgruntled boxing fans.

Still, the GMA-Solar consortium proved to be the most successful of all the TV partners that covered Pacquiao’s major fights, not only ratings-wise, but also in terms of pay-per-view returns and ad rates.

Looking Ahead to Algieri

In two days, Manny Pacquiao will face Chris Algieri, and once again, all eyes will be on GMA and Solar who will cover the bout. Expect the two networks to pull out every stop in order to broadcast this much-awaited fight.

From ‘Blow by Blow’ to pay-per-view, Manny Pacquiao’s rise is definitely a stuff of legend. And for those who watched Pacquiao from his debut, it was all worth it.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

No to Pacquiao Replays on GMA

GMA is once again attempting to draw extensive hype by airing classic Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios fights. However, GMA’s old approach doesn’t usually end with a win for the Pacman.

GMA recently aired replays of classic Manny Pacquiao fights, in addition to Brandon Rios‘ more recent bouts. But here’s my question: Why do you need a replay when all you need is just a pre-fight primer?

For the past several years, GMA and ABS-CBN have been the home to two of the best pound-for-pound fighters today. GMA has Manny Pacquiao, while ABS-CBN has Nonito Donaire. The two have some things in common: both were promoted by Top Rank Boxing, have won world championships, earned endorsement deals with various products, and inspired future boxers in the Philippines. For some reason they are boxing’s version of a teleserye; GMA would air a Pacquiao fight one day, and then ABS-CBN will respond with a Donaire fight. This one-upsmanship has served well for both networks, with high ratings and earnings after each fight.

However, after recent defeats by both fighters, it becomes clear that the game of playing it safe is necessary for them to bounce back. But while ABS-CBN decided to air a primer of Donaire’s upcoming fight with Vic Darchinyan on Studio 23, GMA decided to continue its tried and tested aggressive promotion of Pacquiao through the airing of his classic bouts. Seems like they’re doing it simply to add fuel to the fire, isn’t it? But after losing to Juan Manuel Marquez in the previous bout, did GMA make the right decision?

My answer is an obvious NO. GMA should have stuck with a more low-key approach in an effort to not overhype the fight. In the previous Pacquiao defeats to Timothy Bradley and Marquez, the extreme hype and overconfidence that GMA exuded during their promotional ads proved crucial in the defeat. Let’s face it. Filipinos got used to Pacquiao winning at all costs, that they were confident that he can do the same heading into the Bradley fight. As it turned out, the younger Bradley did the right thing in stopping the somewhat overconfident Pacquiao during their fight, and that overconfidence proved costly too in the next fight against Marquez, in which he was able to knock out Pacquiao.

For GMA, it’s a sense of desperation, given that the network doesn’t have its own sports division and that they only air Pacquiao fights in cooperation with Solar Sports. And while ABS-CBN has enough resources to build their sports department, GMA lacks the necessary revenue and in-house crew to produce this big event. Pacquiao may be the biggest draw come November 24, but in the end, it comes down to the most highly-produced and well-hyped bout of the year.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Studio 23’s Filipinization

The ‘Filipinization’ of Studio 23 turned the network away from quality upscale programming to youth-based, male dominated and mass-friendly programming. (Logo courtesy of ABS-CBN).

I happened to take a brief look at CSI on Studio 23 recently, and I was shocked when they dubbed the program to Filipino. It was uncharacteristic and unusual to begin with. I remember Studio 23’s programming as being ‘different’ from other television networks, but in recent years they gradually shed its upper-class appeal in favor of a more mass-oriented approach.

Studio 23’s ‘Filipinization’ began as early as 2004, introducing its most popular and recognizable slogan ‘KaBarkada Mo’. They aired supplementary programming for the popular reality show ‘Pinoy Big Brother‘, along with the addition of original self-produced programs aimed at young audiences. By then they were airing the UAAP and NCAA games, along with classic Filipino movies on its ‘Lunch Box Office’ and ‘Barkada Nights’ blocks. But the transformation was only the beginning.

In August 2010 a slightly modified slogan was introduced. The slogan ‘IbaKabarkada’ signaled a ‘new’ era for the UHF network, gradually moving away from the upscale program that they used to air in favor of shows aiming to a mass audience. Gone were the English newscast ‘News Central’ and its morning news show ‘Breakfast’. ‘IbaBalita’ took ‘News Central”s place and used Filipino as the main tongue. Reality shows like ‘Survivor’ and ‘The Amazing Race’ were also taken off the air, as are American drama series such as ‘Smallville’, ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ’24’.  Instead they devoted more air time to early morning anime, Asianovelas and Latinovelas. More Filipino classic movies and sports events were also being aired by the network.

Perhaps the biggest move made by Studio 23 was the transfer of traditional American canned programs to the late afternoon slots in favor of Barkada Nights, Philippine Azkals soccer, IbaBalita, WWE, UFC and NBA events. By the start of 2013, all of the canned American programs were dubbed in Filipino.

So why did Studio 23 turned into a mass-oriented UHF television channel? A lot of it had to do with the growth of cable television and internet subscribers. More and more people subscribe in order to get more viewing options and catch up with all the latest news and information in a flash. Studio 23 used to provide viewers with ‘FUSE’ (fresh from the US episodes) of their favorite programs, but gradually deemphasized it following the ‘IbaKabarkada’ launch. Nevertheless they still air select canned programs from the US, albeit dubbed in Filipino in order for the masses to understand.

The network itself also saw the opportunity to acquire more sports properties in an effort to shift attention to a predominantly male audience. In 2011, Studio 23 started airing NBA games through a co-production agreement with Solar Sports. They also acquired the rights to air WWE programs, Philippine Azkals games, Top Rank Boxing and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

In the three years since using the ‘IbaKabarkada’ slogan, Studio 23 shot its way among the top five television networks in the country. However, I think the network needs to fine-tune their programming further. They need to reduce the programming hours of Filipino movies, which on average is six hours a day, and introduce more original programming. They also had to expand their sports programming; ABS-CBN does have the Balls Network, so why not? And air less MYX and Sine-Skwela, because it’s ‘nakakasawa’.

In 1996, Studio 23 was the Premium Network, airing quality programs for the upscale family. But with all the technological advancements, it morphed into the ‘IbaKabarkada’ Network, airing programs for the youth, the males, and the masses. Today it is one of the most-watched television networks in the country, owed mostly to the ‘Filipinization’ that took nearly a decade to develop.

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