Since I covered the free TV side, let us see wht’s in the other side, brought to us by our friend JRDV’s World. Enjoy!
As 2015 ends, let’s take one last look at the biggest news in Philippine cable TV.
BALLS SIGNS OFF
It’s the end of the era for Balls, the last of ABS-CBN’s three replacement channels last 2008 which replaced the Solar Entertainment-owned Solar Sports, BTV, Jack TV, ETC, C/S and 2nd Avenue due to contract issues. Eventually, ETC, C/S and 2nd Avenue found their free TV homes via SBN 21, RPN 9 and RJTV 29, while other Solar channels were dropped. Balls replaced Solar Sports and BTV on Sky, Maxxx replaced C/S and Jack TV on Sky, and Velvet replaced ETC and 2nd Avenue on Sky.
Since Maxxx and Velvet are already gone, let’s talk about Balls. Its programming initially consisted of ball sports (football, basketball, golf, tennis and volleyball). It even aired French Open (before moving to Fox Sports last 2014) and US Open tennis Grand Slam tournaments, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, English Premier League, ATP matches, FIVB, FIFA World Cup, Azkals matches, The programming broadened further to include boxing, wrestling, mixed martial arts and 2011 SEA Games. Balls gained attention when it aired UFC matches from 2009 to 2015, promoted UFC matches and even boosted the popularity of UFC in the Philippines.
With the loss of UFC rights looming, ABS-CBN decided to shut down Balls for good, and it happened last January 1 at 12:00mn. Its last programming was indeed UFC. Speaking of UFC, Sports5 currently hols the rights of UFC matches, and we’ll talk about it on this post.
As for high-definition broadcasts, Balls HD was the first Filipino cable channel to broadcast in HD. It aired UAAP and NCAA matches in high definition. The high definition feed of Balls was replaced with ABS-CBN Sports + Action HD, airing UAAP and NCAA games in HD, as well as sports coverage in which ABS-CBN Sports have rights, excluding NBA, in which HD broadcasts are aired at NBA Premium TV instead.
NEW LOGO, NEW LINEUP, SAME FOCUS
The best is getting better than ever. After the high-profile hirings of Christian Esguerra, Cathy Yap-Yang and Nancy Irlanda on the said network, ANC decided to have a major makeover, and it happened last October 26.
The most notable change is the weekday morning lineup of ANC. Mornings @ ANC used to air at 9:00am before the revamp. Nowadays, Mornings @ ANC is now at 5:30am (the said timeslot was used to simulcast Umagang Kay Ganda of ABS-CBN channel 2). ABS-CBN even utilized its Rockwell studio in Makati for ANC programs, such as Mornings @ ANC and Market Edge. Headstart with Karen Davila stayed on its usual timeslot.
Market Edge, hosted by Cathy Yang, premiered last September 1 and it was initially aired at 3:00pm, replacing News Now @ 3. Its initial focus was to break down the closing numbers as the Philippine Stock Exchange ends its trading session. After the network revamped, Market Edge now airs every mornings @ 9:00am, replacing Mornings @ ANC which aired on the said timeslot. The morning edition looked down the top business news, as well as opening figures from Asia-Pacific stock markets, including the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Nancy Irlanda hosted two programs: News Now @ 10 (which airs every weekdays @ 10am) and Shake with Nancy Irlanda (which airs every Saturday @ 9:30am and Sundays @ 4:30pm). News Now @ 10 serves as Nancy Irlanda’s first newscast since leaving Solar Nightly News last 2014. On The Money now airs every 10:30am, instead of 7:30am (right after the UKG simulcast).
With new lineup and new logo, ANC is and will remain as the news channel which served the latest news and information, something even its newer rivals won’t ever do.
CIGNAL’S BIG EXPANSION
Cignal expanded on a new way and it reached a milestone no other pay TV operator has done before: having more than 1 million subscribers.
Since we’re focused on Cignal’s expansion, let’s take a look on the new channels aired on Cignal. One of them is Bloomberg TV Philippines. Just months after Nine Media Corporation and Turner Broadcasting System’s brand-licensing agreement giving way to the birth of CNN Philippines, MediaQuest Holdings decided to negotiate with Bloomberg Television and reached a deal to create the Philippine version of Bloomberg TV. TV5 even lured Atty. Rod Nepomuceno away from 9TV (now known as CNN Philippines) to help with the new channel. After various delays, the Philippine version of Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Philippines, finally launched on October 5. Despite the hype, the new channel had its share of controversy: having Shawn Yao read headlines every top of the hour with her own show Top 5. Despite its controversies, Bloomberg TV Philippines aims to serve the growing needs of the Philippine business community.
Another new kid in town is Sari-Sari Channel. It is a joint venture between Viva Communications and TV5. This channel airs archive shows and movies from Viva Television and VIVA Films, Studio5 original movies, and in-house original productions. The said channel had its test broadcast last December 1 and will formally launch on January 15.
Another shocker is Cignal acquiring the rights of UFC matches from ABS-CBN Sports, which gives you to this next item.
UFC FOUND ITS NEW HOME
We mentioned earlier that ABS-CBN’s rights to air UFC matches lapsed last December 31 and Balls will sign off for good. The question is where UFC matches will air now that Balls is now gone? The answer is Hyper. The said channel was rendered useless by most Philippine TV observers until recently, when Sports5 announced that they will take over the rights to air UFC matches starting 2016. Filling the huge gap is a huge challenge for Hyper, since this channel is not well-known to most Philippine TV observers or even carried by provincial cable TV operators.
That’s the biggest developments on Philippine cable TV in the year 2015. 2016 should be exciting for Philippine pay TV and it will be an exciting year.