TV5 launches new ESPN5 venture

It’s been four years since ESPN disappeared from Philippine airwaves and Filipino viewers will now able to see ESPN content after so long, like The X Games and SportsCenter. (PHOTO: TV5 and ESPN, Inc.)

Back after four years.

Back in the 90s and into 2000s, Filipinos were able to see ESPN content through a dedicated ESPN channel targeted towards Asia. It was a joint venture between ESPN, Inc. and STAR TV. Eventually, as 2013 enters, STAR TV’s then-parent company, News Corporation (now 21st Century Fox), decided to buy ESPN’s stake in the ESPN Asia venture and rebranded into Fox Sports.

Limited ESPN programming was seen on various channels since ESPN Asia became Fox Sports, like on Outdoor Channel or Solar Sports.

And earlier today, TV5 Network, Inc. and ESPN, Inc. eventually announced a long-term collaboration agreement to introduce a new, but somewhat familiar, sports brand that will serve Filipino sports fans.

Enter ESPN5.

Sports5 will be rebranded as ESPN5 starting tomorrow’s PBA coverage. As for sports lineup, according to Sports5, ESPN5 will air TV5’s current sports portfolio, which includes the PBA and FIBA competitions, Gilas basketball, UFC and the PSL, along with thousands of hours of sports coverage and ESPN content, which include more than 70 NFL games per season. This include Monday Night, Sunday Night and Thursday Night Football games, as well as the entire NFL Playoffs, the Pro Bowl, and the Super Bowl. Other ESPN programming includes live studio programming (e.g. Around The Horn and Pardon The Interruption), US College Basketball (including the much-anticipated March Madness), ESPN’s Big Fights library, ESPN’s award-winning documentaries, Major conference American College Football, IndyCar racing and US NCAA college sport championships. Also on the pipeline is the localized SportsCenter Philippine Edition, and will be produced everyday from TV5 Media Center along Reliance Street in Mandaluyong. SportsCenter Philippine Edition will air on TV5 and Aksyon TV.

According to Mike Morrison, the Vice President and General Manager of ESPN Asia-Pacific, “ESPN’s focus around the world is simple: to serve sports fans. This long-term collaboration across television and digital allows us to jointly serve millions of sports fans in the Philippines with exceptional content and coverage. We are very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead as we bring ESPN’s great content, and decades of experience in sports media together with a dynamic leader in Philippine sports broadcasting like TV5.”

According to TV5 President Vincent “Chot” Reyes, “Our partnership with ESPN, long recognized as the worldwide leader in sports, gives us tremendous upside in the quality of sports programming that we bring to the market.  ESPN strengthens our current position as the country’s sports authority. It is also a testament to our belief that the Filipino audience deserves the world’s best in sports content and programming.”

Sports5 reiterated that the content deal between ESPN and TV5 is “part of TV5’s effort to deliver the most comprehensive, wide-ranging sports coverage in the Philippines, with Filipino audiences benefiting from the combination of local and global sports coverage, exclusive, industry-leading news and information programming from both ESPN and TV5.”

It might be good news for Filipino sports fans who missed ESPN since its disappearance last January 28, 2013, for TV critics, it’s still too early to tell whether the venture will be successful or not, and TV critics reiterated the need for TV5 to strengthen its signal in order to fully compete against ABS-CBN’s S+A and their more local sports offerings.

The signal alone is also hampering TV5 ever since and MVP spent huge amounts of money to lure in big-name celebrities with mixed results. Nowadays, TV5 is basically a majority sports channel, with some entertainment programs (mainly US imports), news, cartoons, movies and home shopping. Was it money well spent on the new ESPN5 venture? It’s still too early to tell ESPN5’s fate, but we will look back on TV5’s overspending and sports spree next time.


TV5 launches new ESPN5 venture

Thoughts after Pac-Bradley (in 150 words)

Manny Pacquiao ended his career on a high note, winning against Timothy Bradley and completes the Pacquiao-Bradley trilogy with 2 wins by Manny to 1 win by Bradley.

But since the fight is in the middle of the campaign period, the fight is promoted less by both GMA and Solar Sports, thanks to the Fair Elections Act.

The writer decided to watch the fight anyway, thanks to its relatives who are die-hard boxing fans. I respect the opinions of those who didn’t want to watch the fight and preferred to watch the PiliPinas Vice Presidential Debate on CNN Philippines, but with Pacquiao winning the match, mukhang may mangyayaring sisihan sa mga taong ayaw manood ng laban at marami ang talo sa pustahan sa naturang laban.

Regarding his Senatorial bid, I wish Manny Pacquiao the best of luck. Let’s see if his win over Bradley would help him win in this year’s election.

Thoughts after Pac-Bradley (in 150 words)

JRDV’s World Year In Review: PH Cable TV

As 2015 ends, let’s take one last look at the biggest news in Philippine cable TV.


After seven years, Balls served cable viewers with FIFA, UFC, UEFA, US Open, ATP, FIVB, UAAP and NCAA games, in which ABS-CBN Sports had rights. With the loss of UFC, which spiked the popularity of this channel, ABS-CBN Sports + Action now have a bigger shoes to fill in. (Photo: ABS-CBN Corporation)

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.


ANC had a major overhaul on its logo, ditching Arial Black on the ‘ANC’ on its logo, a newly-modified rhombus logo and the red-blue title scheme on the network’s programs, which was first implemented on The World Tonight last January 12, 2015. (Photo: ABS-CBN Corporation)

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 expanded with newer channels. One of the new channels launched is Bloomberg TV Philippines, the country’s first business news channel. (Photo: TV5 Network and Bloomberg L.P.)

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 channel added on Cignal was Sari-Sari Channel. This channel offers a wide variety of shows from Viva Entertainment and TV5 portfolios. (Photo: Viva Communications, Inc. and TV5 Network, Inc.)

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.


After being rendered useless by most television observers, Hyper will now air UFC matches starting this January. Living up to the expectations of Balls is a hard task ahead for this sports channel. (Photo: TV5 Network)

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.

JRDV’s World Year In Review: PH Cable TV