Philippines, Sports, television

Is UAAP Women’s Basketball Being Slighted by ABS-CBN Sports?

UAAP Season 81 is well underway.

But while the men’s basketball tournament always gets the attention of ABS-CBN Sports due to its popularity and appeal (that along with the eight courtside reporters for the season), the same cannot be said of the women’s side. There are three factors as to why UAAP women’s basketball tends to get an unfair treatment from ABS-CBN and sports fans in particular.

Lack of Popular Appeal

For the most part, women’s basketball has never been popular in the Philippines. Part of it was due to the absence of a legitimate women’s basketball league and a still-overlying perception that only men can play ball.

UAAP women’s basketball, in particular, only attracts around hundreds, if not less, fans in each game. Which leads to the second factor.

Disparity in Scheduling

Unlike men’s volleyball which is always scheduled before women’s volleyball matches, UAAP women’s basketball schedules always vary in terms of dates and venues. For example, here is the schedule for first round of Season 81.

Looking at the schedule closely, there are three playdates of at least three games that will be held at either the Blue Eagle Gym or the FilOil Flying V Centre. The rest are scheduled on the same day as the men’s basketball games at either the Mall of Asia Arena or the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The fact of the matter is, basketball remains a more popular sport than volleyball and the UAAP usually places the former sport for men in big venues because of its immense appeal. It would be tough for women’s basketball games to be scheduled on the same venue and on the same day as the men especially when popular rivalries such as Ateneo-La Salle come into play.

Loaded Schedule for ABS-CBN Sports

This September alone ABS-CBN Sports has an extremely busy schedule to attend to. In addition to UAAP men’s basketball, the network also covers the NCAA seniors’ basketball, the MPBL and the PVL among others.

ABS-CBN is also expected to air the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season next month. That said, with so many commitments left and right, the network has no room to cover UAAP women’s basketball on television and can only settle for live coverage of the finals come December (but at least it still airs the WNBA as part of its contract with the NBA).

It remains to be seen if ABS-CBN Sports will be willing to change its perception towards the UAAP women’s basketball tournament. For now, though, women’s basketball in the Philippines is a painful work in progress and it desperately needs the public’s help.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Liga Is the New Balls

CPI has a new cable channel in LIGA, which will eventually serve as the main home of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

ABS-CBN’s Creative Programs Inc. has a new cable channel anew.

Following the closure of TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel and Hero, CPI went back to work and quietly established a new sports-oriented cable channel called LIGA. The channel’s content will eventually be focused on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but for the time being, it airs live and classic UAAP men’s basketball and women’s volleyball matches as well as the World Cup qualifiers.

LIGA is served to complement S+A, ABS-CBN’s free TV channel dedicated to sports. While ABS-CBN Sports is the current rightsholder for the World Cup, its main channel S+A may not be enough to shoulder the burden due to its other sports commitments both internationally and locally.

Thus an alternate channel was needed to pick up the slack. Enter LIGA, which is currently on test broadcast with an official launch soon to be announced.

This is not the first time that CPI decided to establish its own sports channel. During the ensuing controversy surrounding SkyCable and Solar Entertainment in 2008 regarding carriage of the latter’s channels, CPI appeased to the demands of some sports fans with the launch of Balls, which lasted seven years before CPI ended its broadcasts in favor of S+A.

But unlike Balls which catered more to the upper echelon of society, LIGA will be more mass-oriented in nature. This despite the fact that it will contain many of the events that Balls used to air.

Now that LIGA is about to be unleashed, one can only hope that this channel will benefit sports fans in more ways than one. Not only that, as the home of the World Cup this June, football fans will be more excited than ever to see their football heroes strut their stuff in the world’s biggest stage.

Good luck.

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Philippines, Sports, television

When UAAP Courtside Reporting Is Not a Safe Bet

It is not easy to be a courtside reporter.

After all, it is considered one of the most highly scrutinized positions in the world of sports broadcasting. The best people on the job are those who can relate well to the audience, speak clearly and articulately, and exude confidence whenever possible.

In ABS-CBN Sports’ coverage of the UAAP men’s basketball and women’s volleyball, a courtside reporter is hired not because he/she is pretty or handsome, but because the network wants them to represent the school with both enthusiasm and pride. Unfortunately, there are those who were simply not up to the task.

Last Saturday, ABS-CBN quietly replaced Nicole Sumagui with Stef Monce as Adamson University’s courtside reporter. No explanation was made regarding the change, but observant viewers saw that Sumagui stuttered at times, was tentative and lacked confidence in her abilities.

Sumagui was not the first courtside reporter to get the pink slip early in the season. There have been two such cases in which a UAAP courtside reporter was replaced before the season concluded.

Prior to UAAP Season 73 (2010-11), ABS-CBN assigned Karen Rozul to be the courtside reporter of National University. But the network replaced her with the late Maan Panganiban when they realized that Rozul was not confident enough for the job.

Two seasons later, NU endured some deja vu when the ineffective Muriel Orais was dismissed in favor of Steph Sy. Sy, like Stef Monce later on, had already exhausted her two-year eligibility, but ABS-CBN reinstated her for a third year due to this untimely circumstance.

For all the talk about the next Pia Arcangel, Lia Cruz, Riki Flores, Aaron Atayde, Nikko Ramos and Laura Lehmann, there are those like Karen Rozul, Muriel Orais and Nicole Sumagui who do not deserve to be in the same room. They may have survived the auditions, yet they failed to translate that into at least one year’s worth of on-the-job training for a future broadcasting career.

UAAP courtside reporting is not an easy task, but if one can survive and fulfill a dream, then it should bode well for their future career paths.Ā  With the second round of men’s basketball plus a full slate of women’s volleyball still to come, all eyes are on the seven rookies and one returnee to see if they have what it takes to be a great UAAP courtside reporter.

Note: Aside from Stef Monce, this season’s roster of UAAP courtside reporters consist of Martie Bautista (Ateneo de Manila University), Eileen Shi (De La Salle University), Sydney Crespo (Far Eastern University), Miguel Dypiangco (National University), Migs Gomez (University of the East), Agatha Uvero (University of the Philippines) and Tonie Moreno (University of Sto. Tomas).

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Philippines, Sports, television

Relegated to the Sidelines: PVL in Tough Position Due to UAAP

The maiden season of the Premier Volleyball League saw its coverage relegated to live stream on most of its games, severely affecting its ability to gain a wider audience. (Logo courtesy of Sports Vision)

Talk about a rough first season.

The debut season of the Premier Volleyball League (formerly the Shakey’s V-League) will officially conclude this month following the season-ending Collegiate Conference. Unfortunately for organizer Sports Vision and broadcast partner ABS-CBN Sports, it was a frustrating introduction for the rebranded league.

When the then-SVL and ABS-CBN joined forces last year, it was hailed as a promise in the right direction. During that first year, ABS-CBN (through UHF channel S+A) was able to bring a majority of the league’s games live, and in doing so, gave the SVL some much-needed recognition after years of TV coverage issues from previous partners.

After Sports Vision renamed the Shakey’s V-League into the Premier Volleyball League earlier this year, ABS-CBN stepped up its game as well. The network announced that the league’s games would air live on S+A and also online through the ABS-CBN Sports website, using a separate set of announcers for the two media.

So far, however, the coverage of the PVL has been a rocky one. Most of its games were relegated to live streaming online, mainly due to ABS-CBN Sports’ priority with UAAP women’s volleyball and men’s basketball.

And even when the UAAP took an offseason break from late May to August, the PVL remain buried behind the pecking order as ABS-CBN chose to re-air UAAP women’s volleyball games instead of giving the PVL a chance. That said, even with main attraction Alyssa Valdez carrying the PVL on her shoulders, the league still lacked the exposure it deserves.

What ABS-CBN did is similar to Sports5’s approach with the Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) in which some games are aired only on livestream. If this is the treatment they wanted for the PVL, then they’re not helping its cause.

While this is only Year 1 of the PVL’s TV/live stream experiment, the warning signs were evident. ABS-CBN Sports failed to account the fact that many people still depend on television for their viewing needs, and although mobile devices are becoming plentiful by the day, nothing can beat the easy convenience of television.

Come the 2018 season, expect wholesale changes from both the PVL and its broadcast partner. Still, it remains to be seen if next year will bring a much-improved scope and exposure into the Premier Volleyball League.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Thoughts on ABS-CBN Sports’ Changes to UAAP Men’s Basketball Coverage

Not great enough: ABS-CBN Sports’ changes on the UAAP men’s basketball coverage drew mixed opinions from viewers. (Logo courtesy of ABS-CBN)

Too long, too many.

That was the criticism of some viewers when ABS-CBN Sports began its coverage of UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball. Despite its promise to ‘go for great’, the new-look coverage hasn’t so far lived up to the greatness that ABS-CBN Sports envisioned.

For the first two weeks of UAAP men’s basketball, ABS-CBN added two TV timeouts from the first to third quarters. Those TV timeouts do not count as far as team timeouts were concerned, but despite its intent to rake in more sponsorship money, viewers were not happy with it as these timeouts only lengthen the duration of a game.

In response to viewer backlash, ABS-CBN decided to restrict themselves to only one TV timeout each during the first, second and third quarters. The reduction did not affect the overall game play however, as UAAP men’s basketball games continue to last at an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes per game, which is almost equal to a typical PBA game broadcast.

Another change that ABS-CBN implemented is the concept of the ‘UAAP Insider’. Former courtside reporters Ganiel Krishnan, Angelique Manto, Ira Pablo and Pauline Versoza were promoted to this position, and their responsibility as insiders is to help the announcers preview an upcoming game and interview coaches during halftime.

The addition of the UAAP Insider now brings the overall total of ABS-CBN’s on-air team to five (not including floor directors, cameramen and other behind-the-scenes staff). Unfortunately, these on-air talents receive fewer minutes of airtime compared to a typical courtside reporter, so it remains to be seen how ABS-CBN Sports will treat this new position well.

The pregame show ‘Upfront at the UAAP’ also received a makeover heading into the new season. The program is no longer aired live; instead it takes on a magazine show format that only airs before weekend UAAP men’s basketball games.

The current hosts of ‘Upfront at the UAAP’ are Janeena Chan, Arturo Daza, Martin Javier and Angelique Manto. Of the four, Janeena is the lone holdover from the first season of the program.

Speaking of ‘Upfront at the UAAP’, one of its former hosts has a new role on cam. Former women’s basketball standout Bea Daez was promoted to full-time analyst, and while this is not the first time that a woman will cover a men’s basketball game in the Philippines (Patricia Hizon once called PBA games during its time with Solar Entertainment), it was still a remarkable barrier-breaking achievement.

So far, so good, but not great enough. Notwithstanding these minor hiccups, ABS-CBN Sports has plenty of time to make things up, so let’s see how they will be able to make the UAAP men’s basketball coverage into something that is ‘great’.

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Philippines, Sports, television

ABS-CBN Sports: Basketball TV’s Only Hope

The loss of FIBA basketball and the abrupt cancellation of the NCRUCLAA coverage has hurt Basketball TV’s profile of late. (Logo courtesy of Solar Entertainment)

Basketball TV’s 10th year on the air has not been a smooth-sailing one.

The Solar Entertainment-owned network has seen plenty of losses in the last several months. Not only did it lose the FIBA basketball rights to Sports5, it also cut short its broadcast of the fledgling NCRUCLAA men’s basketball tournament a month into its maiden season.

On the positive side though, they managed to air an entire season’s worth of the NAASCU men’s basketball tournament while continuing its long and loyal commitment to the NBA and its related properties. Still, BTV’s increasing irrelevance has put a lot of pressure on Solar, and with the costs still growing, BTV’s days appear to be numbered.

There is a reason why BTV is known as ‘Basketball TV’: it is the home to a variety of basketball tournaments. While the network centers aroundĀ the NBA, it also aired a number of other tournaments as well, such as the Euroleague, the U.S. NCAA March Madness, and local leagues such as the PBA and the defunct Philippine Basketball League.

However, asĀ 2017 proved to beĀ a poor year for both BTV and Solar, it is clear that the formerĀ needs a lot of help. At this point, a backup financier is all that BTV requires, and they can look no further than a fellow coveror of NBA games.

Back in 2011, ABS-CBN Sports signed a deal with the NBA to cover its games on free TV. Now the partnership between ABS-CBN and the NBA is six years strong, and they also expanded their scope online whenĀ ABS-CBN signed a contract with the NBA to operate the Filipino website of NBA.com.

ABS-CBN Sports also carry a wealth of experience covering local basketball. The network has existing deals with the UAAP and NCAA, and more recently, they began to broadcast the ASEAN Basketball League, along with grassroots basketball tournaments such as the NBTC and Slam Rising Stars competitions.

If Basketball TV wants to survive this cutthroat world of cable television, their only hope right now is to join forces with ABS-CBN Sports. With the latter’s experience and deep pockets, they could help BTV in any way, shape or form when it comes to providing top-notch basketball coverage.

It may take some time to materialize, but let’s face it, this is the only choice for BTV given their recent issues. That said,Ā let’s just hope that Solar will be willing to allow rival ABS-CBN Sports to resuscitateĀ BTV, and in doing so, alleviate the pressure of running a high-profile cable channel in the Philippines.

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