What TV5 Needs to Do for The Amazing Race Philippines Season 3

9/23/16 Update

Things are looking dimmer and dimmer for a possible season 3 of The Amazing Race Philippines. Since this post almost a year ago, TV5’s fortunes have only gotten worse after Viva Entertainment basically milked them out of undeserved money by giving the network two horrible programs that couldn’t even attract half the audience tuning into Filipino-dubbed Japanese and American series, also on TV5.

So Viva is now mercifully out of the picture and TV5 is left picking up the pieces left over. The network is very much on the verge of falling off the cliff. Most of its talent and staff have left the network for various new opportunities while those left at TV5 are valiantly fighting the good fight. That is all while there is an obvious lack of competent leadership at the top of the network.

It’s very sad really. Not just because The Amazing Race Philippines is basically dead. But it’s also sad to see a promising network just collapse.

Anyway, everything else in this post is still relevant to the overall Amazing Race franchise. So I’ll leave it here. And despite Amazing Race US also on the verge of death, at least other international franchises are doing well. =)

Original Post ->
“NEEDS to do?” Well, that’s a pretty strong headline. Actually, these are just humble (though necessary!) suggestions to hopefully give season 3 of The Amazing Race Philippines the best possible opportunity to succeed.

But let’s back up a little bit. Season 3?! Unfortunately, there is absolutely zero indication that The Amazing Race Philippines is even still alive at TV5.

I actually planned to post this as soon as a season 3 was officially announced. When/If that ever happened. It was all ready to go.

But TV5 has recently undergone some reorganization that included the dissolution of its entertainment department and moving toward outsourcing much of its programming schedule to outside producers (all of which have worked with TV5 in the past and at present).

Now TV5 has closed a deal with Viva Entertainment, the biggest independent producer and talent agency in the Philippines. Viva will now handle TV5’s entertainment division, including taking on homegrown TV5 talents with Viva CEO Vic Del Rosario in charge.

Right now, it’s a good deal as it gives TV5 an opportunity to beef up its original content which has greatly diminished in the last couple of months. Viva has plenty of experience producing feature films as well as managing its own cable networks which have included original programs featuring their stable of artists.

So how does The Amazing Race Philippines fit into this new picture?

Why a season 3?

Let’s first start with why TV5 should produce a season 3 at all.

The Amazing Race has proven to be the gold standard in reality television. It is a critically acclaimed, multi-awarded franchise that has been one of the most popular shows worldwide. That worldwide popularity encouraged many local versions of the franchise.

The Philippines has been one of the biggest countries of support for The Amazing Race, so it was only a matter of time before a local version was commissioned.

TV5 officially acquired the rights for a Philippine version of the franchise in 2011 and the first season went into production and premiered in 2012.

It was a success, by TV5 standards. Solid ratings behind Willie Revillame’s then-primetime show and mostly positive reaction from local fans. It wasn’t without criticism, of course, but TV5 decided on ordering a 2nd season which eventually premiered in 2014.

While The Amazing Race Philippines, like anything not related to the Philippine Basketball Association, wasn’t the breakout ratings hit that would help TV5 give the top networks a run for their money, it does bring the network several positives.

The Amazing Race is an international franchise that gives TV5 its own prestige program. By most standards, both seasons of The Amazing Race Philippines were produced with the same effort and care as other local editions. Both featured original tasks, teams and moments that could easily stand alongside other Amazing Races, including the American mothership.

And successfully producing something like The Amazing Race promotes what seems to have always been TV5’s philosophy: quality over quantity. And providing fresh and unique options for the Filipino audience.

The Amazing Race Philippines was also able to feature its home country like no other television show ever did.

As an international franchise, The Amazing Race has millions of international fans. And TAR fans, from casuals to the most die-hard, love watching The Amazing Race, no matter the language. (More on that below.)

The Amazing Race Philippines can help build TV5’s global profile for Filipinos and Filipinos-at-heart. This is especially necessary, as overseas Filipinos have been hugely important in the growth of both ABS-CBN (especially) and GMA at home and abroad. And TV5 definitely needs help growing at home and abroad.

And so now that TV5 has been convinced to order a season 3, let’s take a look at the things they can do to give it the best chance to succeed. These are all suggestions that are shared by many an Amazing Race fan around the internet. Whether it’s at PinoyExchange, Survivor Sucks, RealityFanForum or just Twitter and Facebook.

Format and airing schedule

One of the most unique things about The Amazing Race Philippines is its airing format and schedule. It is the only TAR franchise to air new episodes as much as six days a week.

Each of the 13 Legs of season one aired over 3-4 episodes, Monday through Saturday. The episodes, 30 minutes each with commercials, were edited in the same way as a normal American Amazing Race episode would be. The downside of this format was that Legs would begin and end on random days of the week with no uniform schedule. (Such as Elimination on Wednesday, new Leg on Thursday.) Sundays featured a marathon of the week’s episodes.

Season two featured a tweaked format that saw ten Legs broadcast over nine weeks. Each of Legs one through nine aired over six episodes, Monday through Saturday. Sundays featured a recap episode of the Leg. The final 10th Leg aired as a one-hour special in that Sunday slot.

The new format initially looked great on paper. And while season one’s format drew criticism, season two presented brand new challenges.

Season two moved toward self-contained episodes in which one episode would contain one or two complete tasks/challenges. The problem here was that many tasks did not merit or deserve an entire 30 minute episode devoted to it. But even more concerning was the loss of the sense of time on the Race. The feeling of teams racing against each other was almost nonexistent as there was no sense of where teams were in relation to each other for most episodes.

For example, you would have trailing teams at a task location after dark in one episode while the leading teams appear at the next location in broad daylight in the next episode.

The self-contained episodes were unexpectedly detrimental to the overall presentation of season two. It wasn’t until the last few Legs in which the production and editing team seemed to relax the strict “one task-per-episode” rule.

I know the daily format is something that is likely here to stay in any future season. So for a season three, I believe cutting down to five episodes per week/per Leg is a good idea to consider. That would include removing the self-contained format and have each episode and Leg play out naturally. More like season 1’s editing, but now with a set 5-episode-a-Leg format.

Both Saturday and Sunday airings were the least watched episodes of the week for season two. So in this new format, Saturdays can have the highlights/recap episode introduced in season two while Sundays can feature a full marathon of the week’s episodes.

Season two’s format also had two bad consequences on the Leg design. First, the room for all the extra tasks needed to fill one week of episodes meant having a dearth of luck tasks, poor tasks and even recycled tasks from season one.

And second, the longer Legs resulted in very linear Legs as well. Linear Legs provide almost zero opportunity for placement changes such as leading teams falling behind or trailing teams catching up. For example, it was very telling when on the penultimate Leg of season two, Jet & Yna commented on how they rarely, if ever, saw Tina & Avy on the Race course. That’s insane to think teams never saw each other since the Starting Line. And that definitely should not be the case on any season of the Race.

Tasks

Undoubtedly, one of things that help The Amazing Race be good television is the set of tasks. Good tasks must be challenging or funny/amusing or both. For season two, many tasks were uninteresting, which made for boring episodes.

The best kinds of tasks should challenge teams physically and/or mentally. And some of the most enjoyable and memorable tasks also include teams interacting with the locals as much as possible.

One of the biggest problems of season two were the luck tasks which are fine for one or two Legs. But not every single one.

And the other big problem were tasks that allowed and even promoted teams to not only work together, but simply give each other answers or solutions to tasks. That stifled competition for a better part of season two.

Any future Amazing Race Philippines will also need to look at crafting social media-ready tasks. The kinds of tasks and challenges that will produce moments which can be easily shared on social media. Bonus points if they can go viral a la TAR17’s Watermelon Road Block from the premiere.

The zombie task from the Iloilo Leg of season two was an incredibly creative idea. And the murder scene Detour in Pangasinan was basically recycled on The Amazing Race Canada 3.

But the important thing is to have interesting tasks that will foster competition amongst teams while providing opportunities for big moments that viewers will enjoy watching.

The Amazing Race Philippines will also need to make sure teams are actually completing tasks correctly and not finding loopholes to get out of performing challenges.

Twists

Season two’s introduction of the Double Battle (or Duel Duel) was a mess. Only one (the carabao racing Road Block) was any good while the others helped feed into the horrible atmosphere of non-competition amongst the teams.

The idea of the Double Battle/Duel Duel is great. And from what I’ve seen, Israel’s HaMerotz LaMillion has been able to use the twist very well. The Amazing Race Canada failed even harder with their two attempts in season three. But that doesn’t mean The Amazing Race Philippines can’t fix the idea.

The carabao racing Road Block Duel Duel was great because it helped drive competition, but did not outright penalize teams. If anything, Double Battles should push teams to compete while not being the sole decider of a Leg’s results. That is not what happened on here season two.

Elsewhere, the voting every leg for U-Turn and Yield didn’t create any of the drama they were supposed to and instead helped foster alliances and give rise to #TheBrainTrust. I think one or two voting U-Turn/Yields a season is okay. But the original use of the U-Turn and Yield where teams must decide when it is most advantageous to use that power provides a better opportunity for competition, strategy and rivalries.

The voting merely encouraged teams to gang up on one team like this were Big Brother (US of course) or Survivor. Which it is not.

Teams

One of the best moments ever on any Amazing Race I’ve seen has to be host Derek Ramsay actually calling out a team on the Mat for not being competitive.

His “sermon” to RR & Jeck in season two as they were eliminated was shocking and unexpected but completely welcome. While the show was airing, fans had pointed out RR & Jeck’s lack of competitiveness and almost disregard for the Race (including giving up). They treated it like a vacation instead of a competition. While the teams who were eliminated before them gave their 110%, RR & Jeck floated by with half the effort.

And apparently, The Amazing Race Philippines crew noticed that as well while filming which is why we got that amazing moment at the Mat.

I’ve never seen, and likely never will, see a Phil Keoghan or Jon Montgomery or Grant Bowler reprimand a team right at the Mat. As they were being eliminated! Derek’s sermon really was a stunning moment that RR & Jeck completely deserved. (And apparently, it happened again during the Iloilo Leg as well to other teams. I’m not sure because the episodes for that week never appeared online.)

That moment made many fans watching The Amazing Race Philippines realize that yes, maybe the crew behind the show actually does care about the Race. And the fans definitely appreciated that affirmation.

Season one definitely had a better mix of teams. They were all competitive, yet fun. Rivalries developed and there was plenty of tension between teams and within teams. They came to compete and were not about to easily hand someone else the answer or decide to give up.

Season two’s #TheBrainTrust was one of the worst alliances and displays of gameplay on any Amazing Race I’ve seen.

So for any future Race, teams must be here to compete. Casting must make sure these teams are here to actually Race and be competitive. This isn’t Pinoy Big Brother where contestants just need to act cute to get ahead as they wait for their showbiz careers. This is The Amazing Race.

And any teams that can produce big moments like this…

…are a bonus.

Be Accessible

The Amazing Race Philippines may be the only Amazing Race in the world that does not upload full episodes online within a day of its original airing.

Full episodes of season one were uploaded to TV5’s website almost two years after their original airing. Season two episodes were sporadically uploaded to YouTube weeks after their airing. And some of those uploads were incomplete. Just look at these uploads:




What is that?!

TV5 has touted its FREE on demand video on its website, but it is not timely updated. And just recently, they officially made ALL video on its website Philippine-only. All geoblocked when just a few weeks ago, they were readily available for any prospective TV5 fan and Kapatid to enjoy. That included The Amazing Race Philippines 1.

Especially when TV5 is not even available to much of the Philippines (because of poor signal reach), these uploads are essential. And not just for The Amazing Race, but for all their shows.

The Philippines is home to some of the world’s most sophisticated pirates. No, not the sea-faring kind. The kind that records television shows and movies illegally to make a profit.

There are many pirates in the Philippines who illegally record the entire line-ups of ABS-CBN, GMA and sometimes TV5. They then upload those videos online, in varying qualities, and allow the videos to be aggregated by other pirates on their own malware and ad-infested blog sites to make money. (With no profit for the networks themselves.) These videos, no matter how poor the quality, regularly get tens and hundreds of thousands of views each day!

So then why wouldn’t TV5 be encouraged to upload these same episodes onto their own website, or better yet on their rarely updated YouTube channel and then take those views and collect the profit for themselves!!!

Not only that, they could even include all the in-show commercials/branding and lower-third logos they want in addition to all the YouTube revenue.

The Amazing Race Vietnam and The Amazing Race China upload their full episodes onto YouTube with full advertisements within hours of their original airing. AND they are available for everyone in the world to watch. No geoblocking whatsoever.

The international Amazing Race fandom loves watching and discussing even foreign versions of the show. While TARPH2 was airing, I’d get countless requests from Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike for links to watch the show. And I sadly couldn’t point them anywhere because even I had no way to watch the series.

In addition to earning revenue for themselves, TV5 uploading full episodes to YouTube is particularly good for a franchise like The Amazing Race.

Having episodes readily available help drum up interest in the show. Using a platform like YouTube also helps people easily watch and share videos which then easily promotes discussion on social media. The more discussion about the show, the more people will watch. And the more people watch, the more discussion about the show.

But people need a way to watch before they can start discussing.

Making full use of YouTube helps beef up the show’s, and in turn TV5’s, video and online presence.

TV5 should also remember that it is at least 2015. They must upload full HD episodes as well as full HD clips online. Both ABS-CBN and GMA have been able to do that.

And TV5 was even able to upload bonus clips during the first week of season 2 in full raw HD. FULL high definition videos!

But then the following weeks up to the finale, TV5 inexplicably started uploading videos in 360p and lower or videos that were so distorted it looked like it was filmed on an old Nokia cell phone.


An old Nokia cell phone that didn’t even have a camera!

It is really inexplicable why such poor quality video would ever be uploaded by a major network. (But even the screencaps used on TV5’s Facebook and Twitter are still in such poor quality.)

TV5 is maybe the most technologically advanced and connected network in the country with its Smart/PLDT siblings under Manny V. Pangilinan. But they haven’t been able to use that well. And that includes their Cignal satellite TV service. They have been able to launch Bloomberg TV Philippines which broadcasts in full high definition, yet can’t upload at the very least a 480p video to YouTube?!

It’s sad that such great high definition footage (HD camera drones!!!) gets horribly downconverted or worse for broadcast and online. That’s not going to help TV5 nor the show. Any show, really.

Only Want What’s Best

As a fan of The Amazing Race since its very first episode in 2001, I was so excited when it was announced TV5 bought the rights and would be bringing the franchise to the Philippines. TV5 was and still is the best possible network to help give the Philippines its own Amazing Race.

TARPh’s future was very iffy after season 1 ended until TV5 finally announced The Amazing Race Philippines: Biyaheng Asya in December 2013. And it was very exciting and a great relief. Even if the Asian travel didn’t pan out, the mere fact that season two even happened is something to be thankful for.

In an interview with PEP, Derek Ramsay said a season three would take place completely out of the Philippines, per Active TV requirements. So it would be absolutely amazing to watch Filipinos traveling around Asia.

There are plenty of countries in Asia and around the world that are visa-free for Filipino citizens, so that’s one hurdle they won’t need to stress over when coming up with a possible route.

Of course, the budget is a big issue to deal with, but they were able to gather a good line-up of sponsors for season two. One would hope they’ll stick around and TV5 can attract even more for a possible season three and beyond.

Filipino audiences really are averse to breaking their misguided network loyalty and do not want to believe that there are actually great shows on any other of the dozens and hundreds of channels on the dial.

I still believe TV5 can do a lot to attract more viewers and especially to a season three of The Amazing Race Philippines. Building hype, designing Legs and tasks that are social media-ready, casting great teams and uploading full same-day episodes will all help word of mouth and help the show’s profile in the Philippines and around the world.

Many times, the most honest criticism comes from people who know you best. They care enough about you that they exert the effort to give you attention. Many fans have commented with suggestions and criticism (good or bad) about The Amazing Race Philippines because they want what’s best for the show and want to see it succeed. (And these are real fans who actually watch or want to watch the show. Not some loyalists of a competing network.)

So, first things first, let’s hope we will eventually see a TV5-produced season three (and more!) of The Amazing Race Philippines. And when that happens, hopefully they can take a look at fans’ suggestions and comments to help make the franchise as amazing as it can be.

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2 thoughts on “What TV5 Needs to Do for The Amazing Race Philippines Season 3

  1. Pingback: The Amazing Race Philippines: DryedMangoez Edition Season 8 | dryedmangoez
  2. Pingback: “Recap”: The Amazing Race Asia 5, Episode 4 – “I don’t think we can do this.” | dryedmangoez

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