PBA commissioner Chito Salud assured that the delayed airing of the PBA Philippine Cup playoff game between Petron Blaze and Barako Bull last Tuesday would be the last television inconvenience for the league's fans.
Salud made this assurance on Thursday as he bared that the PBA and officials of Sports5 are now working towards bringing the live broadcast of the league's games on TV5.
“Both TV5 and the Office of the Commissioner are looking for ways, and a reasonable timeline, within which we can show both games of the PBA live on (channel) 5,” said Salud.
The commissioner hinted that negotiations are headed towards the live airing of both games on the Manny V. Pangilinan-controlled channel, saying the difficulties the PBA coverage are enduring this season are temporary and caused by the transition from IBC 13 to TV5.
“The good thing now is we have one foot inside Channel 5, which is a much better channel,” he added. “What we are going through now is temporary. It is a transition.
"You should realize that we came from Channel 13 and that we are right now a newcomer at TV5. And both parties are aware that the PBA games are much valued by the fans. We’re doing everything possible para ma-i-live yan sa 5."
Even new Sports5 head Chot Reyes hinted in a tweet that the sports arm of the Kapatid Network is working out a plan for the PBA coverage.
“I'd love to answer all questions re PBA telecast, but at this time all I can say is there's a plan and reason for this. Sino ba naman ang ayaw ipalabas ng live ang PBA? Naiiintindihan ko po ang inyong galit at inaaako ko po lahat ng responsibilidad,” said Reyes in a face of an uproar on Twitter over the delayed airing of Tuesday's game.
Salud also pleaded for patience from the fans but made the assurance that their grievances, as well as those of some team owners, are not being taken for granted.
“Naglabas si Chot ng tweet: ‘There is a plan.' Yes, we are in close coordination. And we are one in our desire to show both games live,” Salud stressed.
“So the fans should be patient. Efforts are being done already by the league and our broadcast partner ... Ang puntirya natin dito for the fans is free TV na stronger in reach and signal, which is TV5.”
Asked if the transfer of the league telecast to TV5 can be realized in the next conference, Salud said the timeline will depend on the meeting of the PBA board and TV5 executives.
“We have constantly been talking about it. We will discuss it again with the board on January 30. But that is not the first and definitely not the last,” he said.
“The long-term plan is both games will be aired live on TV5. Yan ang magandang balita for the fans … When it will happen? We will talk about it,” Salud said.
The lawyer also takes pride in the rising ratings that the league has enjoyed in the last two seasons, which also saw gate attendance hit record highs.
“Alam mo naman ang TV programming, it’s a ratings game. The PBA has to show ratings for it to gain some grounds for asking live telecast. And I think, we have naman our share sa ratings,” said Salud.
Even PBA longtime PBA fan Yuri Munsayac is backing up the claim of Salud, saying the league continues to enjoy wide viewership from a predominantly male market.
“I think, malakas ang PBA lalo na sa playoffs. Lalo ngayon may mga fan base na ang mga teams. I think if TV5 will air the games live, hawak agad nila ang male market,” said Munsayac.
Meanwhile, Salud also explained why the Petron-Barako game last Tuesday was not aired live by either TV5 or its sister channel on the UHF band, Aksyon TV 41.
Sports5 has been airing all the matches live on Aksyon TV 41 with simultaneous broadcast of the main game at TV5 during Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
However, since the league has been cramming on its schedule after it gave way to the preparation of the PBA-backed Gilas national team last June and July, games had to be played even on odd days.
“Alam mo yung game kasi nung Tuesday, hindi natin regular days yun eh. Sana maintindihan ng fans na it was sort of accommodation pa nga from TV5 to air our games on the said day,” Salud said.
“TV 5 has its own regular programming on non-PBA days, tapos yung Aksyon (TV 41)… hindi rin nila na-i-air yung first game, because of a prior commitment,” added the lawyer league chieftain, while stressing that Aksyon TV's hands were tied since it was committed to air United Football League every Tuesdays for January and February.