Philippines, Sports, television

In 150 Words: ABS-CBN Hooks Up with URCC

The URCC joins forces with ABS-CBN Sports to broadcast and promote their events. From left: Dino Laurena (head of Integrated Sports, ABS-CBN), Alvin Aguilar (founder/owner, URCC), and March Ventosa (ABS-CBN Narrowcast head). (Photo credit: ABS-CBN)

The URCC is now on ABS-CBN Sports.

On Friday, April 1, a broadcast deal was reached between the Universal Reality Combat Championship and ABS-CBN, enabling the latter (through ABS-CBN Sports+Action in SD and HD) to air URCC events. The first URCC fight card on ABS-CBN Sports will be URCC 27: Rebellion on April 23.

The addition of the URCC to the ABS-CBN Sports family should aid in the former’s efforts to further promote their brand of mixed martial arts in the country. More importantly, it should help Kapamilya viewers move on from the loss of the UFC, which moved to Sports5 at the start of this year.

The URCC is founded and owned by Alvin Aguilar, and is considered the biggest MMA promotion in Southeast Asia.

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Introducing ABS-CBN Sports + Action

ABS-CBN Sports + Action will make its on-air debut tomorrow, replacing Studio 23.

Channel 23 on the UHF band has a new name. It was announced during a press conference in Makati yesterday morning that the name of the said channel will be called ABS-CBN Sports + Action, and the programming content will feature mostly sports, with occasional sprinkling of news and action series in between.

The new network will officially debut tomorrow. And as a preview of things to come, Channel 23 is currently airing replays of sporting events that occurred in the past year, along with a delayed broadcast of the UEFA Champions League and UAAP men’s football.

ABS-CBN Sports + Action will air a wide variety of sporting events, ranging from the UAAP, Philippine Azkals, Pinoy Pride and Top Rank Boxing to the NBA, UEFA, UFC and the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup. In addition, they will also produce a 15-minute sports roundup called ‘The Score’, and a 30-minute discussion-based newscast called ‘News +’.

Carrying over from Studio 23 are action-based drama series such as ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’ and ‘NCIS’, as well as the movies from Fernando Poe, Jr.’s film library and WWE programs. The network will also dabble into reality programming with ‘The Ultimate Fighter’.

With the unveiling of ABS-CBN Sports + Action, viewers can expect a lot of sports coverage from all corners. And it should also serve notice to other competitors who will try to emulate the new style of the said network.

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The End of Studio 23

Left: Studio 23’s ‘Premium Network’ logo from 1996-2010. Right: Studio 23’s ‘IbaKabarkada’ logo from 2010-14.

Studio 23 has announced that it will sign off for the last time this Friday. Replacing the Kabarkada channel will be an unnamed sports channel that will begin operations the next day. But before the change becomes official, here is a look back at the network’s history.

Debuting on October 12, 1996 as a primetime-only block, Studio 23 was first utilized by ABS-CBN as its answer to GMA’s then-sister station Citynet 27. The network would make its own niche in 1998 when it started to air the Metropolitan Basketball Association, the first sports event produced by the soon-to-be ABS-CBN Sports division. By 2001, Studio 23 became a full-fledged network after MTV was dropped in favor of MYX, and ruled the UHF television landscape after the demise of Citynet 27.

It was the acquisition of the UAAP broadcast rights, however, that changed Studio 23 forever. The network began to air UAAP men’s basketball in 2000, and soon after, Studio 23 gradually veered away from the foreign canned programs in favor of their own productions. The shift of content was evident midway through the 2000s, when Studio 23 began to carry the ‘Kabarkada Mo’ slogan, emphasizing its programming focus towards the youth and young adult demographics.

In 2010, Studio 23 not only adopted a new logo, but also changed programming once more. Filipino is now used to dub some of the foreign programs. The all-English ‘News Central’ was replaced by the all-Filipino newscast ‘IbaBalita’. And in a preview of things to come, more sports events were added, such as the NBA, UEFA and Philippine Azkals soccer, WWE, UFC and Top Rank Boxing.

Which leads us to January 17, 2014. Throughout this week two different teasers currently air: one to say farewell and thanks to Studio 23, and another to welcome the upcoming all-sports channel. And based on the teasers, it is clear that the objective of ABS-CBN is to expand and develop its sports properties to a wider audience.

By Saturday, the new name of Channel 23 will be officially unveiled. But for now, we say goodbye to Studio 23 and its 17 years of ruling the UHF television landscape. Thanks for all the memories.

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