FOLLOWING the rejection of lawmakers on Friday of ABS-CBN’s application for an extension of its franchise, sports leagues which call the network home are now made to weigh their options.
Voting 70 to 11, the House of Representatives committee on legislative franchises denied the 25-year extension request of the media giant, leaving a number sports leagues in the country facing the possibility of losing the steady television exposure they were getting from the ABS-CBN S+A channel.
Among the leagues that count ABS-CBN as home are the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Premier Volleyball League (PVL) and Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
Also shown on S+A are events of international mixed martial arts group ONE Championship.
The aforementioned leagues and organizations said they commiserate with ABS-CBN for what happened, but they are now weighing their options as far as broadcast is concerned moving forward.
In the lead-up to the franchise issue, the UAAP said priority for it is to renew ties with ABS-CBN, which is its home since 2000, and widely credited for elevating the popularity of the league.
The latest five-year deal of the network with the UAAP ended in May and the two parties were negotiating for another contract.
UAAP Executive Director Atty. Rebo Saguisag said they were not in a hurry to strike a deal since all UAAP activities are currently on hold because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic but nonetheless they were hoping that the conclusion of the negotiations would not take too long.
With the denial of the extension of the ABS-CBN franchise, Mr. Saguisag said they would pick up where the negotiations are, conclude them and make their evaluation even as he said they will do what is best for the UAAP community, including “hearing other parties” if necessary.
On the part of the NCAA, whose contract with ABS-CBN is still very much in effect, it is going to wait first for the decision of the TV network as to the broadcast of the NCAA in light of the recent turn of events.
As things stand, sans a TV platform to show the NCAA games, online broadcast looms as a possibility for now.
In a recent briefing, NCAA Management Committee Chairman Fr. Vic Calvo OP of Letran said for their COVID-19 hit Season 96 they are “considering many scenarios” and would adjust accordingly.
The same goes for the PVL, which will wait word from ABS-CBN as to the direction it wants to take for the league’s coverage.
For the MPBL, which is a blocktimer in ABS-CBN S+A, it would first discuss its next move but is not discounting the possibility of looking for a new TV home that could accommodate it beginning next season.
The MPBL still has few games left in its Lakan Cup but league Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said the matches, when allowed to proceed, could be played without broadcast.
ABS-CBN has been home to the MPBL since the latter’s establishment four years ago.
ONE Championship, meanwhile, is reportedly in the tailend of its broadcast deal with ABS-CBN. Of late, ONE events have been seen as well over TV5.
ABS-CBN S+A throughout the years showed various sports events, including those of boxing and football, as well as produced sports-related shows. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo