Fair Play: Football on the greatest show on air

I GOT a couple of queries through email recently, both from expats concerning their favorite sports—football.

The English and American variety.

Though both were about different sports, they share the same sentiment—for them, there isn’t enough football in local cable channels.

Orey Higens (ohiggins31@yahoo-.com) wrote, “Stopped by Sky Cable, Cebu yesterday to inquire about the radical decline of coverage for US Professional Football. ‘We have no control of programming’ was the reply of Customer Care. After recalling to the agent the controversy regarding NBA coverage (basketball is THE major team sport in the RP) two years ago, she said she would bring up the subject to the appropriate managers...

Brian Mclaughlin (shanannagh@ya-hoo.co.uk) also hollered, “We are not happy with the coverage of UK premiership and European Champions league football this season. Season 2008-2009 was much better and now we see too much of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. We need to see more of Manchester United live games.”

I’ve forwarded both queries to Dux Carvajal, who handles the PR for ESPN and Star Sports. He promised to raise the concerns to ESPN Star and inform us of the developments.

However, for Higens’ concern on the NFL coverage, I am not optimistic if his wish will ever be granted. There’s a growing NFL fan base in the country because of the
entry of flag football, but compared to basketball fans they’re just a drop in the bucket.

And if Sky Cable was willing to sacrifice Basketball TV in their battle with Solar Entertainment last year, well…you know the drill.

I remember catching a few NFL games on Solar Sports and one other channel, unfortunately, Solar is still a pariah in Sky Cable.

In fairness though, Sky Cable finally listened to the clamor and put Basketball TV back after months of complaints and after more than a few switched to Destiny (without paying their dues to Sky. Now that’s how to get even).
For fans of football—the round variety, as Higens’ noted—there’s hope.

Dux told me 380 Barclays Premier League matches will be shown on RP cable this year. That sounds a lot, but sometimes, the matches we want to see are not part of the 380.

Our resident football-columnist-on-vacation, Noel Villaflor, once got pissed because he was waiting for the Man U vs. Man City match only to realize it wasn’t shown live.

That was after reading a teaser that it was going to be live.

It turned out to be a classic, with Michael Owen scoring six minutes into injury time after Man City equalized in the 90th.

Anyway, Mclaughlin’s concern is valid, but I think Star Sports has finally listened to what was then the previous complaint. I remember hearing a few expats grumble in the past, “There’s too much Man U games on TV, I want Arsenal (Chelsea) games!”

I know Philippine cable will never match the coverage other countries give to football, but at least were getting it.

Balls TV is also starting its plug for next year’s World Cup but I hope it won’t betray fans the way Solar Sports did in Germany ’06.

After teasing fans of its World Cup Coverage, Solar Sports decided to charge everybody an arm and a leg. To say that fans were unhappy is understating it.

That probably didn’t go too well because all of the football fans I met at that time never bought it and everybody flocked to whichever bar was showing the games live—for free or for the price of a couple of beers.

The TV market for football fans is not as big as that of basketball. To help it grow, we need to entice people to watch it. Offering the World Cup for free—or a small fee—is one way of converting a few souls.

Doing otherwise would only further strengthen the belief that football is only a rich man’s game.
I wonder if Balls TV will have the balls to do that.


ELLE said…
Do you know which bars will broadcast the Manchester united/Liverpool match this weekend?
Mike Limpag said…
Try badgers and there's sand trap, I think they show regular EPL matches
el said…
thanks mike. do you know if gustavian / the tap room will be showing it?
Mike Limpag said…
I'm not sure since I haven't been in those two :-)
Jason said…
NFL is already shown on ASN Channel 158 on SkyCable Digital in Manila, maybe you can request it guys fro SkyCable Cebu.
Mike Limpag said…
I'm not familiar with SkyCable Digital. Is that a "higher-end" subscription? I only avail of the "ordinary package."
Jason said…
SkyCable Digital is the digital service of Sky here in Manila, you need the Digibox to gain access to it.

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