THE NBA’s newest Philippine broadcast rights holder Cignal TV and Smart are calling their coverage of the league as unprecedented with the games to be shown in many platforms.
Cignal TV on Monday announced it has obtained the rights to air the NBA in the Philippines. The coverage begins on July 31 with TV5 and One Sports showing the games on free TV and Cignal creating a 24/7 NBA channel on standard definition and high definition.
Also part of the deal is the livestreaming of games in Smart’s data plans.
“I guess I'll call it unprecendented, right? It's never been made available in this way to digital consumers,” said Smart SVP and head consumer wireless business Jane Basas in the Sports Page program of Cignal TV. “According to the NBA, this is the first time that they're actually going to be integrating a livestreaming site for the NBA games in a telco load pack. So our objective really by doing this is to essentially democratize the access to premium NBA content.”
The NBA games on pay TV returns after the league’s contract with longtime partner Solar Entertainment expired at the end of the 2018-2019 season. The deal with Cignal and Smart is for three years or until the end of the 2022-2023 season.
Cignal TV and TV5 CEO and president Robert Galang said the company has been negotiating with the NBA since last year, but delays came after the league suspended its games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Actually, we started discussions since last year but with the suspension of the games, nag-stop ‘yung mga discussion. Now we are able just to resume and finally we were able to sign the contract and we're all very excited that we would be able to again broadcast the games on Cignal and TV5,” said Galang.
“We actually just signed the contract with the NBA last Friday, late Friday evening. So that's July 25 and we actually just started talking to them the early parts of July also,” Basas added.
Basas sees the NBA being exposed to more than 70 million of their customers nationwide.
“I think this is why the NBA said this is the first time so even as we were negotiating the terms of the contract. That portion on the digital engagement was something that was new to them as well,” Basas added.
The showing of games by Cignal and Smart will begin with the resumption of the NBA under a ‘bubble’ in Florida, until a champion is crowned in October.
Cignal TV vice president and head of content acquisition and partner management Vitto Lazatin said the 24/7 channel to be called NBA TV Philippines will feature different contents such as postgame show Inside the NBA and classic NBA games that fans were also used to in the past.
“The excitement is still going to be there. All the action that Filipino NBA fans love, that's all still going to be there. But everything's all going to be a little bit different from what they might be used to from the screaming fans and all of that,” Lazatin said.
NBA games will be aired on TV5 live every Saturday and Sunday, while One Sports will show games every Monday and Friday. NBA TV Philippines, meanwhile, will air at least two games daily every day.