WHEN PEOPLE are asked about public relations (PR), they usually have mixed feelings about them in question — whether their products or services in a firm were favorable or not — as an adage goes: “Good or bad publicity is still publicity.”
This holds in our national television industry.
Before the Internet, the reactions to the shows and networks that had just aired were published in print (in the entertainment section in the newspapers and specialty magazines) on the next issues. Then, there was the online world; for those who remember the early days of it, PinoyExchange comes to mind, and then, Friendster.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram grew in popularity and diversity during the previous decade (the 2010s). As a result, entertainment department executives from various TV networks and program producers were urged to include their Facebook pages and other social media handles on their title cards, fearing that they would be out of touch.
In some cases, they put the official hashtags (HTs) for each episode on the title card before the commercial break or on the left side of their screens (as the right is reserved for the station logo and the MTRCB rating).
As a result, some users can respond by tweeting with the corresponding HT. In the perspective of a social media marketer (whether working for a program or a TV network), they purposefully select praise tweets either from a specific network’s brigade or a die-hard fan and dismiss negative criticisms, even constructive ones, regardless of validity and substance. Others, on the other hand, use the same official HTs to gain clout.
Nevertheless, it’s the dynamic marketing mix for the 21st-century viewer.
We are now in the 2020s; a fifth of the current century has been passed and this decade is still relatively new. We’ve seen how last year’s twin events — a major player’s fall and a global pandemic — caused significant setbacks and pains in the industry, although social media survives and becomes a tool for protest and reform.
How did the surviving Two Major players respond? Can they be influenced in the new course of television history for the better or the worse?
AFTER a hard day’s work and a light dinner, you decided to slouch on the couch or bed and turn the remote on and flip your favorite show on the small screen. Even if you’re working from home, you might need some time to be recharged and entertained.
This is defined as the prime time wherein adults are their main target audience. From the marketing perspective, prime time is where the shows have the highest rating and their advertising rates are a bit more than 100% than the daytime. Hence, a big deal for the business-minded.
In a universal consensus, primetime starts after the national newscast where the audience is mostly at home and ends before the late-night news. The Philippines follows such a convention — on weeknights, at least.
Philippine Primetime TV B.C. (Before Corona)
Since the 1990s, the two networks from South Triangle had been under a heated matchup. At the turn of this millennium, we got used to the present formula of three daily teleseryes after the 90-minute newscast and one Asianovela (divided for daily consumption) before the late-night newscast. For GMA, their primetime Asianovela runs from Monday to Thursday as they will not let go of their cemented Friday night institution, Bubble Gang.
For weekends, after their respective newscasts, they’re dedicated to sitcoms (Saturdays), reality competition shows, drama anthologies (Saturdays) and a magazine show (Sundays). On Sundays, their primetime marked its endpoint with the late-night comedy talk show before the start of the looming workweek.
Under the New Normal
The fall of the most prominent TV network and the COVID-19 pandemic should’ve signaled the shift of the structure and the mindset of primetime TV, right? Well, not on weekdays but substantially on weekends.
In case you don’t know, Pepito Manaloto has ended its nearly decade-long Book 2 and won’t be back until the middle of July for its prequel.
Mother Ignacia’s main cable channel and their blocktime on Channel 11 continued what they left during their 34-year-old free-to-air, standalone era; Kamuning didn’t change the weeknight structure but has separated shows for each day of the weekend. (At the moment, Catch Me Out PH on Saturday is suspended while on Sundays, beginning supposedly this Sunday, it would have been the premiere of Sing for Hearts butit is postponed and for the meantime, Sirkus will take its place.)
TV5, the Eager McBeaver of the mainstream free-to-air TV networks, tried to do differently than what the South Triangle Duopoly had ever done. (Hence, the recent jazzy, upbeat station ID here.)
From November 2020 to March 2021, they retried a new way in Primetime Todo with Paano ang Pangako? as the weeknight drama and the weekly drama on one particular day of the week that followed. The experiment lasted for three and a half months because they admitted behind the scenes that old habits die hard.
As of this publication, Channel 5 begins their weekday primetime earlier with Sing Galing and Niña Niño, where their combined timeslot is clashing against 24 Oras. Their newscast, Frontline Pilipinas airs an hour ahead of GMA’s renowned early evening newscast and lasts for an hour. Stepping into Perci Intalan’s shoes, the reason for their counterprogramming is that they knew that some people are depressed and annoyed with accustomed long newscasts especially on items over the gaslighting pronouncements from the Palace and the most obvious annoyance, exclusive showbiz news. When 8 p.m. strikes, the three teleseryes and one Asianovela of the once-competitor go on the air.
The aforementioned paragraph is applicable when no domestic sports (a.k.a. their sense of normalcy) are actively in play. Once the PBA — or imminently, the Gilas campaign on the last window of FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers — gets underway, Wednesday and Friday night schedules would be disrupted and missing one episode of the three crown jewels from Mother Ignacia — or bumping off due to overtime in the game — is unacceptable, especially to those loyal viewers taking the solace of refuge there. The revitalized network had no choice but to adjust the schedule of the league so that their blocktime shows would start on time. (Trendrod Box has comprehensively provided the scenarios on this.)
For the Weekend
Their primetime block is dedicated to game shows on Saturdays — almost a full strip — but there is one reality competition show every Sunday beginning this coming Sunday (June 13) with POPinoy.
Unlike GMA, TV5 cannot have a weekend newscast due to preemptive measures in case for the country’s professional basketball league. So how do we define weekend primetime there in Reliance/Novaliches? Their primetime programming will start on the second game of the traditional PBA doubleheader.
Primetime losing relevance?
Now that GMA has the invincible mandate on the free airwaves and its CEO Eugene H. Krabs Felipe L. Gozon continued to bang about the ratings during the annual stockholders’ meeting (ASM) last May 19, 2021, we could’ve called them out to stop that kind of obsession since:
Their ex-chief rival is no longer on the common platform and thus, not the same reach as it was before; and
Their new rival (TV5) is miles behind them. (According to their ASM, Kamuning is a bit more than 7.5 times the audience share than in Reliance. It’s like GMA is an unidentifiable gas giant while TV5 becomes the Earth.)
Bumping off the competition could’ve urged the Kamuning Network to have their currently produced teleseryes extend as they want and upgrade their equipment for future shows since they have a bottomless bottom-line like iced tea but the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (primarily due to locked-in tapings) and the government’s predictably botched response forced them to limit their endless possibilities.
However, the premeditated end to free-to-air license to the once broadcasting behemoth, and the virtual giant refused to budge to those who demand better quality of their shows would just make viewers abandon or throw off their (non-smart) TV sets and move on to their laptops, tablets and smartphones to catch up on the missing episodes. Our monthly survey in April conducted that 12% of respondents said that their viewing habits have embraced to purely online and/or streaming since May 6, 2020; it may be too small but it could grow.
Acknowledging the class system and individual preferences, some people at the expanding bottom of the pyramid (not all are on the poorest of the poor) neither have the access nor the time as those who loved to binge-watch on Netflix, Cignal Play, iQIYI or any video-on-demand (VOD) platforms. They may have to rely on their hard-earned digital TV receivers.
People who were still loyal to the fallen TV network but lived at that part of the pyramid had no choice if they captured just one channel after scanning their digiboxes.
The network executives of the monopolistic media entity should’ve known that. They were given over a year to reform and change their paradigm but they failed and unsurprisingly ogled so much on the bottom line and such proceeds will be invested in non-core business just like the former competitor has done. The scrappy one in Reliance/Novaliches tried.
In other words, the demographics and their preferences must be accounted for as with the current environment we all are harnessing.
Will the State-Controlled Media Show Up?
While I have tackled so much about GMA and TV5, I would’ve almost forgotten how the state-owned networks would’ve responded. (CNN Philippines is excluded for obvious reasons.)
While PTV is flexible because the main star (a.k.a. He Who Must Not Be Named) has his live, unfiltered show from the Palace and the famous Lotto draw, IBC 13 will have a difficult matter (obviously, their organizational problems are chronic). Their weeknight primetime begins from 7:30 and ends at 9:00 p.m., which is just a half the duration of the mainstream, commercial channels.
Every Saturday since May 8, Oras ng Kings — an hour-long infomercial block that promotes the eponymous Kings Herbal Food Supplement — airs at late night as the last program before sign-off at midnight. After the (most essential) DepEd TV block, do you know how many runs of Du30 on Duty have been airing during Saturday night? Two times (non-consecutively) on the hour of 9 and 10 p.m.
On Sundays, they’re a cistern of government propaganda that was initially aired on PTV but re-aired for those who wanted to catch up. They signed off at 10:00 p.m. (almost the end of primetime) Alas, they only have one network-produced program (F.Y.I.) but did they click the public? Not even a single iota, especially to those belonging to the South Triangle-minded tribes.
But the question remains: Will they ever catch up with their giant counterparts with a very limited amount of time before we choose the next president (in which, he or she will appoint all the board members of that GOCC) next year?
EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY IN THE TRYING TIMES | During the resumption of PBA Season 45 in the Clark bubble last -ber months, fans come to see their favorite teams from their computer screens.
THIS WEEK — on Friday, more specifically — will mark the 46th anniversary of our Liga ng Bayan, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
The corresponding 46th season of this league will tip-off in 12 days (on April 18) as initially planned by the Board of Governors but that opening game could be delayed due to the COVID surge that forced NCR Plus still into Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ); therefore, we do know that it will not go into multiple seasoned venues in that geographic area (i.e. not in Araneta Coliseum, Cuneta Astrodome or even Ynares Center).
While the logistics of venues will be managed by the Board and they might go back again to Clark, others have concerns. What challenges and thoughts are we expecting for the nation’s professional league before it tips off?