The legacy of ABS-CBN Sports goes beyond delivering the action from multiple leagues such as UAAP, NCAA, MPBL, ABL, BVR, ONE Championship, and PVL to a wide audience. Just like its parent company ABS-CBN, it had the ability to innovate and capture the stories of athletes to create content that resonate with millions of viewers – not just die-hard sports fans – and give them a greater appreciation for sports in general.
Here are eight times that ABS-CBN Sports changed the game in sports broadcasting:
1. ABS-CBN Sports provided multiple platforms for athletes to showcase their talents and passion for the game
Through the many platforms of ABS-CBN Sports, promising Filipino athletes were able to display their talents to millions of people around the world. Games were broadcast in the Philippines on free TV on S+A, cable TV via LIGA, and overseas via TFC. Apart from posting highlights, ABS-CBN Sports would also stream sports events on its social media platforms and website, alongside the ABS-CBN streaming service iWant. Volleyball players such as Grethcel Soltones, Dennise Lazaro, Charo Soriano and the sports communities of Colegio de San Juan de Letran and the UP Fighting Maroons Club are grateful that ABS-CBN Sports shared their stories and gave them a stage to play their game.
2. ABS-CBN Sports was a storyteller for athletes
ABS-CBN Sports was able to highlight the journey, struggles, and eventual triumphs of Filipino athletes with different personalities and backgrounds. Viewers witnessed the rise of Alyssa Valdez in the “Flight of the UAAP Phenom” documentary, and see how UAAP stars Ange Kouame, Ricci Rivero, and Rhenz Abando left their comfort zones to pursue their basketball dreams in “Dayories,” an iWant original. Fans also got to know more about the athletes through halftime features or interviews in shows like “Upfront,” “University Town,” and “The Score.” The latter even spawned segments that eventually became stand-alone programs such as “Extra Rice with Beau Belga” and “Kalye Confessions with Cherry Nunag.” Despite a pandemic, ABS-CBN Sports continued to deliver with new offerings like “Homework with Mico Halili” and “TBH” hosted by collegiate stars Ponggay Gaston, Mich Cobb, Eya Laure, and Rosie Rosier that showed the other side of the athletes. Their off-court personalities also shone in exclusive social media content such as the “Superlatives” game, “SIBS: Day in the life” with athlete-siblings Juan and Javi Gomez De Liano, Shaun and Dave Ildefonso, and Jayvee and Jaycee Marcelino, and vlogs by courtside reporters.
3. ABS-CBN Sports allowed athletes to pursue their love for the game even after their collegiate playing years
Athletes were able to continue sharing their love for the game in ways other than playing the sport as they were welcomed by ABS-CBN Sports as anchors, hosts, or analysts. Volleyball players such as Alyssa Valdez, Gretchen Ho, Michele Gumabao, and Cherry Nunag were given the opportunity to talk to fellow athletes but this time as hosts of their own shows. Former UAAP basketball stars in Jett Manuel, Bea Daez-Fabros, and Danica Jose and volleyball athletes Charo Soriano, Dzi Gervacio, Nicole Tiamzon, and AJ Pareja continued to share their knowledge of the game as analysts of “The Score” and basketball and volleyball leagues. Former NCAA player and PBA veteran Beau Belga is also thankful that ABS-CBN trusted him to be the host of “Extra Rice” as he posted on social media “ABS-CBN opened a new chapter in my career… #KapamilyaForever.”
4. ABS-CBN Sports’ courtside reporter program opened up opportunities for aspiring media practitioners
The courtside reporter program of ABS-CBN Sports allowed first-hand experience for aspiring media practitioners and also gave them the opportunity to work with and learn from top sports anchors led by Mico Halili, Boom Gonzalez, and Anton Roxas. The likes of Nikko Ramos, Riki Flores, Gretchen Fullido, Tina Marasigan, Denice Dinsay, Laura Lehman, Apple David, and Ganiel Krishnan all started out as UAAP courtside reporters and ended up pursuing a career in news, events, radio, or sports. Ganiel and Apple were among those who shared messages of support and gratitude for ABS-CBN Sports by posting on social media “Thank you ABS-CBN Sports. TV Patrol reporter po ako dahil sa inyo” and “ABS-CBN Sports opened the door of opportunity for me. It’s where I started, a huge reason why I am where I am today.”
5. ABS-CBN Sports’ digital shift kept sports fans engaged online, even during the pandemic.
ABS-CBN Sports’ expansion to digital allowed sports fans to not just be constantly updated about their idols and the games but also bond and interact with other sports fans on social media. Through posts like highlight videos, exclusive features, and cool artworks, it has amassed over a million followers each on Facebook and Twitter and over 230k followers on Instagram, building an online community that celebrated sports culture in the Philippines.
With its massive social media presence, ABS-CBN Sports continued to inspire and entertain fans during the COVID-19 pandemic with new “SRSLY” episodes with Shaun Ildefonso that generated eight million views on Facebook since its launch last March, “Gamesplained” videos by athlete-analysts, and the first-ever stay-at-home dunk contest called “Home Jam: Dunkers Only,” which drew over 500k views online and generated over 1M impressions and 1M reach on Facebook. Who can also forget the virtual closing ceremony of UAAP Season 82? ABS-CBN Sports certainly did not let the quarantine stop it from engaging Kapamilya sports fans as it even gained a bigger following in the period of March until May 2020. It also led in the social media engagement category for Philippine sports media across all its digital platforms with a total of 105 million views on Facebook and Instagram, while earning 12k mentions on Twitter.
6. ABS-CBN Sports promoted sports development and values formation through basketball and volleyball clinics
Barangay basketball clinics and Heroes Volleyball camps were organized in different communities by ABS-CBN Sports for young aspiring athletes. More than teaching the fundamentals in basketball and volleyball, the clinics served as an opportunity to create a positive impact in the lives of young Filipino athletes by instilling in them the values of hard work, discipline, and teamwork. Aside from receiving free quality sports training, kids were also able to draw inspiration from players like volleyball stars Isa Molde and Rex Intal, and former UAAP stars Tonino Gonzaga and Danica Jose as they learned from them directly through drills and motivational talks.
7. ABS-CBN Sports strengthened the bond within the sports community
Through NCAA On Tour and PVL On Tour, ABS-CBN Sports was able to bring the games closer to students and more communities by holding games in the school’s campuses for NCAA and in different parts of the Philippines for the PVL. Fans were also able to meet and interact with their favorite volleyball athletes in events such as the PVL and S+A Volleyball Grand Fans Day where avid supporters got to play games with their idols, cheer for them in fashion show, and enjoy performances from Star Music Artists.
Moreover, ABS-CBN Sports united and inspired the nation through producing “Isigaw Mo: Galing Natin Ito,” a sports anthem that celebrates Pinoy pride and Filipino greatness that was launched ahead of the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG). “The Score’s” “Galing Natin Ito,” a two-week special coverage of the SEAG gathered and put the spotlight not only on the medalists but on all SEAG participants. The special program went beyond the athletes’ preparation for their respective events as they also discussed their advocacies and interests as individuals that allowed the audience to relate to them on a deeper level.
8. ABS-CBN Sports gave Filipinos the total sports channel experience
From early morning until late night, ABS-CBN Sports gave viewers a wide variety of world-class sports content on S+A. It aired the best leagues and tournaments in the country from yesteryear’s MBA and PBL to today’s UAAP, NCAA, PVL, MPBL, and PCCL. It also was official broadcaster of the ASEAN Basketball League and ONE Championship, and for some time, even the global juggernaut that is the NBA. It also brought Filipinos the biggest local and international sporting events such as Palarong Pambansa, the AVC Asian Senior Women's Volleyball Championship, the AFF Suzuki Cup, Davis Cup, the Southeast Asian Games, and world title fights of Donnie Nietes, Nonito Donaire Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
It was instrumental in the rise in popularity of volleyball and cheerdancing/cheerleading in the Philippines, and gave exposure to other sports and disciplines such as football, juniors and women’s basketball, 3x3 basketball, beach volleyball, baseball, softball, badminton, billiards, streetdance, dancesport, triathlon, extreme sports, and esports.
As ABS-CBN Sports approaches the final buzzer, it is leaving behind contributions that have benefited and will forever be cherished by the local sports community. Its ability to tell stories evolved the way sports is watched here in the country and brought the game to greater heights. Maybe one day, like any true champion would, it will be back again to tell more stories.