CIGNAL TV begins its broadcast of the NBA games with a bang on Friday with a double-header that will be shown on NBA TV Philippines.
A game pitting the Los Angeles Lakers led by LeBron James against city rivals Clippers and another game pitting the Utah Jazz against the New Orleans Pelicans comprise the slam-bang double-header marking the return of NBA basketball to Philippine television after the league's old contract with Solar expired last season.
The Lakers-Clippers match will be shown at 9 a.m. after the 6:30 a.m. game between the Pelicans and Jazz.
The NBA on Monday announced it has signed a multi-year partnership with Cignal and Smart that will enable the games to be shown on free TV via TV5 and One Sports, cable via NBA TV Philippines (formerly NBA Premium) and Smart via livestreaming.
The deal, according to Cignal, will cover this truncated season plus the next three campaigns of the league's premier basketball league, ending in 2023.
Guido Zaballero, head of marketing of Cignal, said the first two games will only be shown on rebranded NBA TV Philippines, which he said will be showing an average of two games a day that will also be made available online to Smart subscribers.
Zaballero said one NBA game will be shown on TV5 and two on One Sports during weekends, beginning with the 9 p.m. match on Saturday between the Mavericks and Rockets on TV5.
One Sports begins its NBA broadcast with a 9 a.m. game pitting the Rockets against the Pelicans on August 3 (Monday).
Asked why the only a few games will be shown on free-to-air television, Zaballero admitted said games made available for free TV were already limited even before ABS-CBN pulled out of the joint bid due to its franchise woes.
"Limited talaga ang number of games for free TV," he said.
Guido Zaballero said NBA TV Philippines will be available to Cignal postpaid subscribers on plans 520 and up. For prepaid, Zaballero said loads 600 and up will get the channel 262 HD feed and loads 450 and above will get the channel 96 SD feed.
The channel will also be made available as an add on for P200 a month, on both Cignal (channel 262 HD) and SatLite (channel 52 SD), the company’s mass-market Pay TV brand. The channel will be offered two months free of charge for new subscribers who switch to Cignal at the start of the season, until the end of the year.
“I think the NBA is a huge piece of the puzzle for us. We are the broadcast partner of the biggest, most prestigious basketball brand in the world,’’ said Zaballero.
Asked what will happen to NBA League Pass, the league's online app which was marketed aggressively in the absence of a TV broadcast in the Philippines, Zaballero said it will continue to function separately from the Cignal-Smart collaboration.