Philippines, Sports, television

Improving the UAAP Finals Setup on Channel 2

FEU and NU will meet in the UAAP men’s basketball finals starting this Saturday, with select games airing on ABS-CBN Channel 2. (Photo credit: Interaksyon.com)

The UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament is down to just two teams.

For the first time since Season 55 (1992), neither the De La Salle Green Archers nor the Ateneo Blue Eagles will be involved in the championship round. Instead it will feature the FEU Tamaraws and the National University Bulldogs, who disposed their respective opponents in Wednesday’s sudden-death semis matches.

The unlikely pairing between FEU and NU is not only ‘the best thing that ever happened in the UAAP’, according to FEU head coach Nash Racela, but it also makes for some compelling television as well. Both teams are aching to end a nine and 60-year title drought, respectively, and are also seeking redemption after they fell short in last year’s Final Four.

For the fifth consecutive season, select games of the UAAP men’s basketball finals will be aired live on ABS-CBN Channel 2. But despite the fact that they have aired the finals for five years, there were only three potential championship clinchers that aired on Channel 2; namely, 2011’s Ateneo-FEU Game 2, and Games 2 and 3 of last year’s La Salle-UST finals.

Let’s face it, in spite of the high ratings that ABS-CBN enjoyed with the UAAP, the one thing that is holding them back is its programming lineup. Since Channel 2 began broadcasting the UAAP men’s basketball finals, the only day that Channel 2 was able to broadcast is on Saturday afternoons, as timeslots on other days of the week were shut out in favor of teleseryes, and in the case of Sundays, ‘The Buzz’.

That said, ABS-CBN should have been figuring out this mess already. Perhaps they can use this setup: Game 1 on a weekday via ABS-CBN Sports+Action, and all potential clinchers on a Saturday via ABS-CBN Channel 2.

With this setup, more viewers will be interested in a possible must-win game rather than an appetizer of a series opener. But then again, this approach will depend on weather conditions that may postpone any game.

Nevertheless, this year’s finals between FEU and NU should be an interesting one, regardless of which ABS-CBN channel will air the game live. While the Finals won’t have the benefit of a popular star like Kiefer Ravena or Jeron Teng to fill viewers’ appetites, it should still give them plenty to cheer for two teams with contrasting yet proud UAAP legacies.

And with that, may the best team win. Good luck.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Amid Fan Demand, UAAP Men’s Basketball Finally Schedules Primetime Games

A night game between La Salle and NU on September 13 marked yet another first in the history of UAAP men’s basketball. (Photo credit: Interaksyon.com)

Welcome to primetime basketball, UAAP.

On September 13, the first night game in the history of UAAP men’s basketball took place inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The historic game pitted the De La Salle Green Archers and the National University Bulldogs, both of which went on to play in the season’s Final Four alongside the Ateneo Blue Eagles and FEU Tamaraws.

The historic night game was necessitated since the four teams on that day’s doubleheader were contending for a Final Four slot. With the stakes at its highest, and in anticipation of a possible sellout, the league decided to have two separate games on the same day instead of a traditional doubleheader, something they’ve been using during Ateneo-La Salle matches.

But instead of a morning and an afternoon game, the league experimented with a 2:00 p.m. game and a 6:00 p.m. game, in hopes of attracting more spectators. And on September 13, history was made in the UAAP.

Scheduling night games in Philippine college basketball is not a new concept. The NCAA experimented with this approach in Seasons 88 and 89, but abandoned it once TV5 joined alongside incumbent coveror and sister station AksyonTV in the coverage of the games.

Too bad few fans showed up to watch a primetime NCAA game, further compounding its issues in television coverage.

While the UAAP men’s basketball tournament is increasing in popularity, the league still needed something to spice up fan interest. This is where night games come to the picture.

Fortunately for coveror ABS-CBN Sports+Action, their scheduling flexibility allowed them to air this historic live match. And for the league’s legion of fans, the night game between La Salle and NU only adds to the UAAP’s growing popularity.

Tomorrow’s do-or-die Final Four matches (Ateneo vs. NU; La Salle vs. FEU) will again have a night game on the schedule. This time, however, three matches will be on the bill, thanks to the inclusion of the first game of the women’s basketball finals between FEU and NU.

In fact, all three games will be aired live on Sports+Action, furthering its commitment to the UAAP cause.

For a league that continues to grow with every season, the historic night of September 13, 2014 will always be remembered in UAAP annals. It was a night that the UAAP and its fans will never forget, and the legend will only rise from here.

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Philippines, Sports, television

ABS-CBN Must Prove UAAP is Here to Stay

The Ateneo-La Salle first round matchup will take place on July 20 at 11:00 a.m., presumably to allow ABS-CBN Channel 2 to broadcast the game. (Photo credit: ABS-CBN News.com)

UAAP Season 77 is four days away, but the bidding rights for Season 78 are already underway.

The men’s basketball tournament begins this July 12, marking the fifteenth season of the fruitful and lengthy relationship between the UAAP and ABS-CBN Sports. However, the upcoming tournaments will be the first for ABS-CBN Sports+Action, formerly known as Studio 23, which was replaced in the middle of the previous season’s women’s volleyball tournament.

Entering the final year of the five-year contract signed in 2010, ABS-CBN made it clear that they will not stand pat and will do whatever it takes to keep the UAAP. And it became pretty evident when the revised UAAP schedule was released last week.

In the revised schedule, the highly anticipated Ateneo-La Salle duel was moved to July 20 from the original playdates of August 2 and July 19, and will be played at 11:00 a.m. The rescheduled game, according to observers, is aimed towards a potential live broadcast on Channel 2, the flagship channel of ABS-CBN.

Even though ABS-CBN 2 has aired the men’s basketball finals in the last five years (and the women’s volleyball final game last season), the VHF network has never aired a single Ateneo-La Salle match in men’s basketball. The game on July 20 could change all that.

Game-changing moves like this are no stranger to ABS-CBN Sports. Since becoming the broadcast partner of the UAAP in 2000, the network has made significant milestones over the years, some of which contribute to the league’s overwhelming popularity.

Whether it was the addition of student courtside reporters, the introduction of the Cheerdance Competition as a side event, the first-ever high definition television broadcasts, or Channel 2’s coverage of the men’s basketball finals, ABS-CBN’s shrewd moves at improving the UAAP coverage appear to pay off. And increasing attendance during games was the result of these moves.

But what will happen if the UAAP suddenly cut ties with ABS-CBN? For sure, there will be sweeping changes for the other coveror, which may threaten the consistent growth of the league.

Among those bidding for UAAP rights is TV5. The Kapatid network has been aggressively courting the UAAP for awhile now. However, they don’t have the attributes that ABS-CBN utilized in promoting the league. Worse, their scheduling issues with both the PBA and NCAA pose a great risk to their bid.

If ABS-CBN Sports wants to renew their rights with the UAAP, they must prove that the gains from last year are no fluke. During Season 76, the men’s basketball and women’s volleyball finals posted high ratings for the Kapamilya network, and virtually every game became a trending topic on social media sites.

The network also aired a ‘game of the week’ for men’s football and men’s volleyball, along with the finals of badminton, tennis, beach volleyball, baseball and softball, and various other events. In all, ABS-CBN gave the UAAP their most comprehensive coverage of the league’s games to date, and should give them the necessary inspiration for the upcoming season.

The UAAP on ABS-CBN Sports enters a pivotal moment in its 15-year history. For both parties, it is time to deliver their best performance yet.

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