TV5 president confident network can break even in 2019

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While big changes at TV5 Network, Inc. saw the company scale back losses by as much as 30% in 2018, President and Chief Executive Officer Vincent P. Reyes has some challenging months ahead if he hopes to break even by the end of the year.

“I would be the first to say, it’s going to be very, very difficult,” Mr. Reyes told reporters on Thursday. “But I think I am confident in the fact that we have assembled a team that is going to be able to take advantage of any such opportunity that will allow us to achieve that target.”

Recent streamlining efforts began in late 2017, with a partnership with ESPN. The decision to shift away from general entertainment to sports was a difficult one, Mr. Reyes said, but one he believes ultimately paid off.

With plans to leverage their new sports content online, TV5 launched, in the hopes of “becoming a big player in the digital space” — completely repositioning the company as a digital-first sports and news network. In the short-term, TV5 saw a drop in advertising placements through the end of 2018. But cutting costly entertainment content from the lineup saw a substantially better bottom line for the network.

“The partnership with ESPN was very important because it gave us a lot of content at a cost which was not as prohibitive as it was when we used to do general entertainment,” Mr. Reyes said.

Moving into 2019, Mr. Reyes said TV5 has plans to relaunch its “AksyonTV” channel, rebranding it as “5 Plus”. Set to air on Jan. 13, the new channel will target younger audiences with content ranging from extreme sports to esports tournaments.

“We had some difficulty monetizing Aksyon because there wasn’t a definite identity,” Mr. Reyes said. “[Plus 5] plays a much, much bigger role than [AksyonTV] used to. So, I think it’s going to be a big help, and the benefits of 5 Plus should be felt… by the entire organization.”

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez