SOLAR Entertainment CEO Wilson Tieng admitted he was initially pessimistic that the three giant TV networks in the Philippines will come to an agreement to simultaneously air what is regarded as the richest fight in boxing history.
For the first time in the country’s television history, ABS-CBN, GMA, and TV5 are conspiring to broadcast the anticipated bout between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 2 (May 3 local) at the same time.
Solar, which secured the exclusive local airing rights for a staggering US$10 million from US promoters, has allowed the Philippine television's Big Three to broadcast the megafight on free TV on a delayed basis.
But Tieng admitted he, too, had doubts that the historic occurrence would not come to reality. In fact the Solar big boss had doubts if the fight will be shown in the Philippines at all.
“Honestly, I thought it would never get shown,” he said. “That was the first thing on my mind because of all the friction.”
But unlike HBO and Showtime, top US TV companies that took months to see eye-to-eye to agree to a joint broadcast, their local counterparts didn’t take that long to reach a deal, said Tieng.
“I guess it was tough for everyone,” the Solar boss said. “But it took us only two weeks.
“Everybody set aside all their differences to make sure this will the biggest event in Philippine television history,” he added. “It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone, especially for the Filipino people.”
And Pacquiao, which would always unite the country during his fights, was the biggest difference, with Tieng saying the Filipino boxing icon would still make calls to Manila even if it was 1 a.m. in the US.
“Still it was Manny giving me the hope and perseverance to carry on, so natupad.” Tieng said.
Still, Tieng doesn't rule out problems cropping up in the run-up to the fight in the uneasy peace pact among three networks which for so long have figured in a fierce rating game.
“Pero hindi pa rin tapos (arrangements) kasi May 3 pa ‘yan eh. We’re expecting a lot of issues to crop up,” he was quick to add. “Pero pwede naman pag-usapan yan.”
Tieng said they are planning to put up an “arbitration committee” to oversee the nitty-gritty among the TV networks so “everything can be settled.”
GMA, which had been the only local TV company to air Pacquiao fights on free TV and where the eight-division champion has an exclusive local TV contract, decided to give in to TV rivals.
“We feel we owe it to Filipino people,” GMA executive vice president Felipe Yalong said.
GMA, though, will have exclusive radio coverage via dzBB, according to GMA head of radio operations Mike Enriquez.
Fans can also catch the historic bout on pay-per-view on Cignal and Skycable, with the former setting a P2,000 price for subscription.
SM Cinema, for its part, is “dedicating all its 300 screens nationwide to make sure fight would be accessible” and is pricing each ticket between P600 and P1,000.