Big Brother

Timow’s QuOP No. 13: Wrestling with Franchised Reality Shows


man lying down holding his mobile phone

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

[AUTHOR’S WARNING: This post can provoke insult to certain fans of the following programs. Read at your own risk.]

THE PANDEMIC-INDUCED “eternal” lockdown makes us stir-crazy and misses the things we enjoy.

Even if you are Team Bahay (home person) pre-COVID, you would miss watching your favorite TV shows as its production (save the news) were suspended until further notice (but gradually regaining).

Hence, the spiraling effects that programs offered at the moment are significantly different than normally scheduled with some of the scheduled shows delayed by a few months to a few years or scrapped altogether.

Speaking of lockdown, I spent few months titillate and wrestle at the same time a long topic before the eternal lockdown happened: reality television. Personally speaking, I’m not into that genre as for the past decade, they put game shows to irrelevance since typical Filipino viewers are prone to emotions than to the intellect. (Well, that “dead” genre is reviving, thanks to TV5’s radical programming strategy this month in the post-ABS era of Philippine television.)

Since the start of the year, I tinkered upon the Google Docs spreadsheet of different reality TV franchises that happened into our shores and it manifested upon me that isolation-based reality shows (e.g. Survivor and Big Brother) will last longer than others internationally.

Paano mo nasabi? (How would you say that?)

 

The Data-Driven Plan

Scope, Limitation and Treatment of Data

 

Five Program Franchises

The five (5) international reality TV shows that currently airs or formerly aired on our shores.

 

I decided to delve into five (5) international reality TV program franchises that currently airs or had a Philippine version:

  • The Amazing Race (adventure, since 2001, PH version began in 2012 but ended in 2014),
  • Big Brother (isolation, since 1999, PH version began in 2005),
  • Idol (talent, since 2001, PH version began in 2006),
  • Survivor (isolation, since 1997, PH version began in 2009 but ended in 2012), and
  • The Voice (talent, since 2010, PH version began in 2013).

From them, we will get how many geographical franchises (y-axis) were broadcast in every calendar year of each franchise’s existence until 2019 (x-axis). It doesn’t matter if there are two seasons of the show in one calendar year and/or it has a spin-off; they are counted as one.

For the spreadsheet-loving nerds, click here for the Google Sheets of all five program franchises. (Sorry, it’s still in progress because I’m too busy.)

Finding the fitting model and when to stop

Since we will determine when these program franchises peak and flatten, the regression model to be used will be the bell curve model. It’s just like the epidemic curve for the goal of flattening from overloading the maximum healthcare capacity.

The specific bell curve formula will come from the first derivative of the basic sigmoid function:

1st derivative of sigmoid

When to Istahp? (The Cut-off Point)

Determining the effective end of an international program franchise is very subjective but an important matter. The best answer I could give logically is when the curve flattens as the predicted y (the number of geographical franchises ran in a particular calendar year) reaches 1.

 

The Results

The solid blue vertical line is the current year while the dashed blue horizontal line is the cut-off point.

Jotting down the data using Desmos graphing calculator, all five program franchises are past the calculated peak and thus, on the downward trend.

However, among the five, Survivor and Big Brother would last longer until the late 2030s; the two talent competitions (The Voice and Idol) will live up until within the turn of the next decade but The Amazing Race will be effective until two years.

Why?

In 2001, TAR and Idol began their journey in the United States and in the United Kingdom, respectively. The big, salient difference is TAR was too slow to go international; Idol boosted and reach its peak two years later.

The adventure show premiered on CBS on September 5, 2001 (six days before 9/11 struck) and in several instances, some of the featured places throughout its nearly two-decade run became the focal point of disasters and tragedies after that particular episode premieres (I read that from TV Tropes wherein the show is a “doom magnet”).

Their first international franchise did not take off until 2006 on AXN Asia; it didn’t reach its peak until 2012 with nine international iterations (which is the lowest of all-time among the five).

With this ongoing pandemic, this would add more insult to injury since the global aviation industry is struggling (which is a necessary component) to adapt to the new normal procedures. Psychologically speaking, potential contestants are scared to fly out.

 

Afterthought

The quantity of international franchises doesn’t always mean it’s of good quality. Other than TV ratings, there are factors that make or break the fate of a program franchise like financial sustainability (within the franchise holding network’s accounting and budgeting departments), audience criticisms (ranging from the well-reasoned and seasoned TV critics to one-sided pressure groups) and other external factors (no need to explain which one).

To the die-hard fan of The Amazing Race and admitted yourself to be delusional having the third season to happen here. Well, you are definitely right.

However, this QuOP doesn’t end here yet as there will be a follow-up on September 6 about the future of franchised programs now that the dominant, acquiring network is forced to be called — by those who wished for it — as a “has-been.”


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If There Is No More ABS-CBN Again (Part 2): How Will Their Competitors Respond?


[WARNING: This post contains insights that are whimsical; if you have different points, feel free to comment your differences. Read at your own risk.]

 

ABS-CBN Soundstage

One of the concerns if ABS-CBN stops broadcasting is how to maintain their Horizon soundstage in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. Will they open up for their competitors to rake in potentially lost revenue?

 

IN THE FIRST PART, we determined the background behind their hatred against Mother Ignacia and the sacrifices and the ethical questioning behind their programming operations that lead to their success for the past 10 years.

The hanging question remains unsolved: What if the keyboard and mobile chauvinists have it their way?

The short answer: FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano would finally end at last after four years. No more It’s Showtime and no more GGV and that means, no more lollygagging from Vice Ganda.

But the long answer is somewhat complicated.

Despite the rise of video-on-demand platforms, traditional TV remains the most dominant medium for information and entertainment. In other words, the loyal Kapamilyas and even avid viewers of their selected programs will have to enter cold turkey instantly.

Without a mode of exposure, artists (especially, the fresh ones) will lose an opportunity to build their careers in their resume; as a result, there will be an oversupply.

Hundreds of exclusive artists will all be, in theory, freelancers but some personalities have backup agencies. For example, Anne Curtis, Vice Ganda and Sarah Geronimo are all VIVA talents and with that, VIVA’s boss Vic del Rosario has the right to ink a deal with any remaining network and they would still get TV exposure. Those talents who don’t have a backup agency would be out of luck unless they planned ahead to take up entrepreneurial ventures like KathNiel with their barbershop business.

Thousands of employees from news and sports departments could get reassigned or get the pink slips. Newscasts, including regional ones, would undergo as exclusively digital akin to Rappler.

Current multi-year contracts with this network when it comes to sports (e.g. MPBL, NCAA and UAAP) and entertainment (e.g. Miss Universe and PMPC Star Awards) will really need to find a new home.

Sure, there is iWant to carry over the remaining episodes and some of their finished programs are ready for syndication to their soon-to-be-former rivals.

The over-all analog switch-off might be delayed and the Full HD progress would be stalled. The network have done both feats very seriously and had they continue to operate, they will be the frontrunner in testing 4K UHD.

In terms of the TVPlus’ functionality, their encryption should come to an end and the apparatus would be treated as a regular DTV converter box or it would longer be useful.

It’s not just the TV frequencies that would be gone, so too would be their radio stations under their ownership like — in the case of Metro Manila — MOR 101.9 and DZMM 630. (No more DJ Chacha for advice and no more Dos por Dos for engaging commentaries for motorists in the afternoon rush hour.)

Other non-broadcast ventures like Star Cinema, Star Music and ABS-CBN Publishing will continue to operate. Their promotion would need communication of consent with other rival TV networks.

Their facilities outside Mother Ignacia like the new Soundstage in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan could be opened up to their competitors for rentals or for lease in order to make up the lost revenue.

Competitors’ Response

With Mother Ignacia suddenly disappeared, Kantar’s and Nielsen’s database for measuring TV ratings would change drastically and so are its entertainment reports in both broadsheets and tabloids.

Losing ABS-CBN for good (or for at least two years) can make a significant difference in the Philippine TV landscape.

Before their very eyes, what will happen to the rest of the competitors? Will they replicate the silver linings or successes in certain aspects that Mother Ignacia currently enjoys?

In a short answer, three rival entities (with four VHF channels) will have an individual, significant response; CNN Philippines is out of the picture and sectarian UHF networks are barely affected.

GMA

For the simpletons, the possibly-former rival will be the undisputed winner in the new TV ratings game as it would hold the virtual monopoly on general entertainment.

Financial-wise, this media company generated 15.236 billion pesos in revenue in 2018 (which is 38% of ABS’) with the asset composition being 62% equity compared to 42% equity from Mother Ignacia. Net income was 15.1% of revenue compared to ABS’ 4.7%.

When it comes to broadcasting divisions, GMA has almost everything that ABS-CBN has except for a full-time sports department.

As this year celebrates itsĀ  70th corporate anniversary, a grand homecoming would happen. Will GMA repatriate Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez and Ryza Cenon? Assuming they have returned, will the entertainment department give the displaced talents more exposure and better roles on their upcoming projects?

In the past decade, Timog Avenue’s reality competition shows tend to be “original.” Without ABS-CBN, their mindset should be changed gradually but let’s not be surprised if they are contented with status quo.

In terms of technical aspects, GMA has a varying, inconsistent application in Full HD. While their selected shows on mobile and online are in high definition and on 16:9, TV remains at 4:3. (To borrow Nadine Lustre, ano na, 2020 na!)

 

The 5 Network

In the eyes of its apologists, the Network from Reliance is perceived as a safe harbor for the displaced artists just because it’s on the nearest neighboring frequency (if you skipped PTV). This would help Jane Basas’ intention of reinstating entertainment programs. The only threat to this opportunity is the ire for insistent, immature anime fans and loyal sports aficionados in social media.

For the time being, TV5 will be No. 2 when Deuce is suddenly gone since entertainment programs have to be pitched first before getting the green light.

A network fan pitched a comprehensive overhaul of Big Brother if the current right’s holder is gone. To be honest, that program franchise is nearly at the declining trend (although we can still continue) but his favorite show, The Amazing Race, is already at that stage. Maybe it’s time to get a new, rising franchise competition show like Lego Masters or to live on the legacy, The Masked Singer.

As of this publication date, the best of Face to Face is airing in the afternoon after Aksyon sa Tanghali. Without Dos, Tiyang Amy Perez can resume her stint and it should be aired on their last timeslot in the late morning so as not to offend the current iconic personality of the network, Raffy Tulfo.

While ABS-CBN currently enjoys the two aforementioned technical advancements, 5 has yet to undertake them very seriously (In addition, their channels are not scanned consistently or at all in DTV set-top boxes — not even on TVPlus).

 

Government-Owned Media Networks

In aggregate, PTV and IBC generate a bit more than 250 million pesos in 2018. Comparing that to ABS, they need to exert 160 times more effort to earn the level of revenue. When it comes to net income, it’s in the negative (without PCOO subsidy).

While PTV can open up commercial advertisements in the amended charter, they haven’t been that successful to keep up. Why? Public’s reputation, internal network culture, and restrictive mindset. Let’s face it, both GOCCs are not successful cash cows; they are not like PCSO or PAGCOR.

We published a proposed license fee mechanism back in 2017 to generate stable levels of revenue since home shopping, long-time infomercials, long-time blocktimers and part of Lotto games are too varying and not enough to recoup the deepest costs but we admit that it wasn’t a popular measure.

An avid viewer of this network wants to put displaced talents who happened to be a VIVA talent into the network just like in the 1990s. But with this jammed default mindset, it’s asinine, impossible, since Vasra always prioritizes the old man in Malacanang.

Special Case for IBC

Under the governance of the Kabayan’s (Noli de Castro) daughter (Kat) last year, she inherited Old Balara’s financial position under the capital deficiency territory — which means that the measured liabilities are more than its measured assets. (This is much worse than the total assets of which the majority of it is in debt that ABS currently stands.)

Throughout the period, they started to improve its programming (thanks to SMAC Television Production) but the financial performance is yet to be seen.

Last year, two Star Magic talents starred on that channel: Ritz Azul acted in the teleserye Bukas May Kahapon and Heaven Peralejo (the niece of Rica) became the co-host performer of weekend variety show SMAC Pinoy Ito. This year, Awra Briguela (Makmak of FPJAP) will join in the Gen Z-casted noontime show, Yes Yes Yow.

When it comes to Old Balara’s technical aspects in digital television, they take their tests seriously than her sister network amidst a 480i (standard definition) resolution.

That being said, for the time being, Channel 13 cannot be replicated as the #1 network as it was claimed during the first shutdown half a century ago.

Radio

Without 101.9, the newest member, DJ Chico, could come back home to Energy FM 106.7. Their loss could also mark 105.9’s opportunity, which means, it’s going to be another rebrand and reformat.

Without DZMM, Radyo Patrol reporters will be scattered to other AM radio stations or create an independent media production.

Final Thoughts

Sure, there are moral lessons in this worst-case scenario of such intervention to glean on — there is a time to swallow on one’s pride and greed.

Shutting down the major media entity’s core business segment will never be enough for their satisfaction; it’s rather a beginning set by these vengeful keyboard nationalists of a bloody battle.

For the die-hard fanatics of this embattled network, their life is now facing danger.


The financial data that was used in the calculation were from their 2018 audited financial reports that are downloadable from their investor relations page (for ABS-CBN and GMA) and from the Commission on Audit website (for PTV and IBC). The 2019 figures are not yet available as they are currently under audit.


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Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN.com