ALL it took was a single call from Manny Pacquiao to end the network war among the country’s three giant television outfits - at least even for a day.
A landmark in Philippine television history was made on Thursday when ABS-CBN, GMA 7, and Sports 5 joined hands and agreed to air simultaneously on free TV the ‘Fight of the Century’ between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 3 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The unprecedented move was made possible by no less than the 32-year-old Pacquiao, who urged Solar Sports, which holds the exclusive media broadcast rights to the historic fight, to have all three networks air the 12-round welterweight unification title bout together.
Solar Sports president and chief executive officer Wilson Tieng admitted it wasn’t easy bringing together the three TV stations for a common cause and that Pacquiao played a huge part in making the impossible possible.
“Manny played an important part to put this thing together. Solar Sports can only take part of the credit. It’s still Congressman Manny who made this possible,” said Tieng during the press conference announcing the historic collaboration among the ‘Kapuso’, Kapamilya’ and ‘Kapatid’ stations.
A live feed straight from Los Angeles was shown during the proceedings where Pacquiao personally extended his profuse thanks to all executives of the three giant networks for heeding his call.
“Salamat sa kanilang pagkakaisa upang maipalabas an nating laban,” said the Filipino boxing great, who had to immediately beg off from the live patch since it was already way past his bedtime.
Popular broadcaster and GMA SVP for radio Mike Enriquez and GMA Network Inc. finance officer Felipe Yalong represented the ‘Kapuso’ network, Sports5 head Chot Reyes was there for the ‘Kapatid’ station, while Dino Laurena, head of Integrated Sports, came on behalf of ‘Kapamilya.’
Also present were Oscar Reyes, chief operating officer of Cignal, and Edgar Tejerero, president of SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc.
The bout will be exclusively aired as it happens on radio through DZBB, Cignal is going to feed the match through mobile and pay-per-view (along with Sky Cable), while SM malls are set to show the fight live from around 300 of its cinemas all over the country.
Solar Sports shelled around $10 million (P440 million) to buy the exclusive broadcast rights on the fight projected by many to go down as the richest in boxing history.
And while GMA has been the sole network which had been showing Pacquiao fights in the past through free tv, Yalong said the station deemed it best to share the rights to its two rivals.
“We owe it to all Filipinos to choose the channels where they would like to see the fight, and of course, in deference to the request of Manny Pacquiao,” Yalong stressed.
Laurena said for his part, “To include ABS and TV5 is something that is welcomed by the tv audience. This is a pleasant turn of events. Who can say no to this kind of opportunity.”
“We’re just too happy to be part of the experience and be part of this great event,” said Reyes, the former Gilas coach turned tv executive. “We’re just too glad to see Manny beat Mayweather.”