08/06/20 UPDATE! After TV5’s virtual mediacon today, it was confirmed that they will no longer rebrand the network as “One TV.” You can read more about why here: TV5 to Provide Hope to Filipinos as the “Network of the New Normal”.
07/19/20 UPDATE: According to various sources and TV5’s own promotion for this week, its relaunch to One TV has either been cancelled or postponed. BUT fresh, original local content is still coming to channel 5, albeit delayed due to quarantine. Stay tuned!
The post as originally posted (and updated) remains below:
It is a very tumultuous and uncertain time in Philippine media and entertainment these days. An absolutely unprecedented and what could be a major change in the local television and entertainment industry.
I’m referring, of course, to TV5‘s impending rebrand and relaunch to One TV.
It was back in 2008 when then-ABC was rebranded and relaunched as TV5, ushering in the first serious threat to the Philippines’ decade-long television duopoly of ABS-CBN and GMA. While the revitalized TV5 enjoyed some successes since that initial relaunch, it has also suffered many losses.
But alongside the tumultuous 12 years of TV5, its parent company MediaQuest Holdings was able to establish Cignal as the country’s leading pay television provider. They then extended the Cignal brand to a production unit and streaming service while also launching premium channels available via the company’s flagship satellite service.
Those premium channels, focusing on news and sports, were launched under the “One” brand including One News (an English-language news network), One PH (a Filipino-language news channel and simulcast of the company’s radio broadcasts) and One Sports.
Now, perhaps in an effort to synergize their television properties under one banner, MediaQuest is rebranding the flagship TV5 into One TV.
Originally scheduled for April 13, 2020 (based on the original teaser), the relaunch was postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. But various, random sources online (none official) originally pointed to a new July date for relaunch.
But now it would appear ABS-CBN’s going dark on its over-the-air, free TV channel may have moved the timeline back up to as early as May 14 or May 18.
5/30/20 Update: A now deleted tweet from TV5’s Twitter featured a teaser announcing a July 20 launch:
Oh! The tweet was still available on my phone before refreshing Twitter. So here's TV5's original tweet teasing the July 20 launch of One TV: pic.twitter.com/Axv1iJEPF6
— DryedMangoez (@dryedmangoez) May 29, 2020
And there’s certainly pros and cons for doing the relaunch now in the midst of ABS-CBN’s current predicament.
But this post isn’t to debate the timing. Instead, let’s take a look at some things that a TV5-turned-One TV can do to find more success this time around.
After all, the Philippines needs more choices, not less. And a successful and strong third network will only help the other two networks as well as benefit the Filipino people.
Without any official word from anyone involved at TV5, whether about the impending rebrand or what the outlook is for the future, what follows is unsolicited advice and analysis from this Media Studies graduate. Take that as you will. (Though there’s certainly plenty of supposed media scholars tweeting up a storm on social media thinking they know what they’re talking about. But that’s a whole other issue.)
Why One TV?
Let’s first discuss the rebranding itself: One TV.
With no official press releases or articles about the rebranding, I don’t even know if it’s “One TV” or “OneTV” or “ONE TV”.
But when I first learned of the “One TV” rebranding of TV5, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad.
While I completely understand the want to have all its networks under the same “One” umbrella, there’s just something about retaining the “5” of the flagship over-the-air free TV channel.
Even back when it was still the Associated Broadcasting Company, the network has been synonymous with Channel 5 and was known “ABC5” as well, even if unofficially. Of course, the “5” refers to the VHF channel of the flagship station in Manila.
So the rebrand to TV5 in 2008 made sense and there was already a familiarity by the Filipino audience that immediately helped with name recognition and awareness.
However, there’s definitely a risk with the change to “One” branding. There’s a sense of nostalgia lost with the disappearance of the iconic “5” that most Filipinos are familiar with. Filipinos mention growing up with ABS-CBN Channel 2 or GMA-7. The same can be said for ABC5 and TV5.
While it is understandable to want to unify the “One” branding across its networks and platforms, it isn’t necessarily something that Filipinos will know even without knowing anything else about it.
When they hear “There’s a new show on TV5,” they know where to turn to and look. If they hear “There’s a new show on One TV,” they’d probably look at you like you were crazy.
I would’ve preferred retaining the “TV5” or “5” branding while somehow integrating the “One” branding as well.
But since it’s obviously already been settled on, let’s turn to how the unified branding helps the greater company.
Cignal has emerged as the most successful part of the MediaQuest family. And its technology and content works hand-in-hand with corporate siblings at PLDT and Smart.
That in a way helps the company’s television division be much more future-proof than rivals GMA Network (especially) and even ABS-CBN. With entertainment content shifting more and more toward the digital realm
In essence, the flagship TV5/One TV network serves as the main source of traditional advertising revenue. But it looks to be positioned as being the best promotional vehicle for Cignal services and content.
Presumably, One TV’s news department will take on the One News branding instead of News5. So people watching the primetime evening newscast on One TV will be directed to the premium channels One News and One PH for more. PBA broadcasts will be produced by One Sports, which itself has one over-the-air free TV channel (One Sports) and another premium channel on Cignal (One Sports+).
Programming from Cignal’s premium channels may also air on the new One TV as well. And everything will be available on the company’s Cignal Play streaming service and app.
The unified branding offers a seamless synergy that makes marketing easier and simpler, plus raises awareness to the other (more lucrative) offerings of the company.
Now of course while streaming has taken over much of the world, leaving traditional broadcasters scrambling to catch up, free over-the-air broadcast television is still king in the Philippines. So, the 2, 5 and 7 spots on the dial are still the primary sources of news and entertainment for most of the country.
That said, it’s easy to see rebranding to One TV is the company looking forward to the future of the industry and what will become the main sources of revenue and the preferred delivery methods for content.
Reaching the Audience
Aside from awareness of the relaunch (and perhaps even more important) is ensuring that the audience will actually have access to One TV. The issue of reach and availability has plagued TV5 for years. There are large swaths of the country that are unable to receive a TV5 signal over-the-air. Some areas require a cable or satellite subscription.
Though there were ambitious plans to use existing PLDT Smart infrastructure to widen TV5’s reach, there really hasn’t been much news reported on that front lately.
Regardless, strengthening that over-the-air signal, even with the digital shift slow to get going in the Philippines, should be a priority for TV5/One TV.
But TV5 has been able to offer alternative ways to access network content as well. It was the first (and still only?) network to offer a free livestream simulcast on its website. First using a native player on their website before transitioning to a simpler and more convenient YouTube stream.
That’s the kind of simple innovation that helps expand its reach. It also allows people to watch on the go. And coupled with Cignal Play also featuring a livestream simulcast (as far as I know), it provides extra opportunity for people to watch.
Of course, there’s the concern about cellular data and the cost of that. But offering as many opportunities as possible is obviously not a bad thing.
They should also consider making the entire TV5 library available on Cignal Play (including The Amazing Race Philippines!) too.
Elsewhere, the launch of One TV should include the long-overdue launch of an HD feed for the network. Considering Cignal is its corporate sibling and that premium channels like One News and One PH (all originating from the same Reliance broadcast center as TV5) are all broadcast in high definition, it really is perplexing that TV5 hadn’t already begun HD broadcasts yet.
Their Aksyon newscasts were the first to actually be produced in high definition (long before both ABS-CBN and GMA) along with PBA broadcasts that simulcast on high definition premium channels as well.
So the capability is there and all they need to do is flip the switch. It would be an extra feather in their cap to begin broadcasting in HD before GMA Network too.
Broadcasting in high definition in 2020 should be a no-brainer. Not only is it logical, it instills greater confidence in the viewing audience as well. They will know that this is a forward-thinking channel and company. And that will help instill a great amount of goodwill and trust, especially for a network trying to regain its footing. And while its competitors lag in various areas on the technical side.
So the resources for quality transmission of content is already there. But how about the content itself?
TV5 dissolved its entertainment division years ago in an effort to balance its budget.
Last year when reports that TV5 would be returning to entertainment programs first popped up, then-TV5 President/CEO Jane Basas indicated they would actually rely on both TV5 and Cignal’s library of existing programs.
Even before Enhanced Community Quarantine shut down production of new programs on ABS-CBN and GMA, TV5 had already begun re-airing classic series to fill its schedule. That included both soap operas and the always talked about Face to Face.
TV5/One TV should utilize a good balance of news, sports and entertainment that neither of its rivals enjoy.
Moving forward, at least initially, One TV should continue relying on the TV5 library and Tagalized foreign series and movies while then bringing in Cignal’s original content as well as fresh new programming.
Just taking a peek at TV5’s Facebook page and you’ll see over the last few weeks, fans commenting how upset they were that the network yanked repeats of Babaeng Hampaslupa from the line-up. TV5 eventually returned the series to air.
Last year, TV5 announced the return of Face to Face, albeit in reruns, then yanked the series off its schedule before they even began re-airing. Comments flooded their social media accounts with viewers disappointed after having been initially excited to see the series return.
The series did eventually begin re-airing on the network this year.
(It’s also important to note that there seems to be a clamor for anime to return to Philippine free TV as well.)
But it speaks to the idea that Filipinos aren’t completely averse to watching shows on GMA or TV5. I remember my little cousins in Cagayan (very much ABS-CBN territory) enjoying reruns of GMA and TV5 shows on FOX Filipino thinking they were brand new programs even though they were years old.
They may have been older shows, but they were new to them. And once they did watch, they enjoyed the shows. One TV could certainly fill its daytime line-up with “Best of 5” series while saving its new and premium programs for primetime.
For that new programming, Cignal has been slowly, but surely producing original content. And that could certainly continue if they end up producing content exclusively for One TV. If not, re-airing Cignal original series on One TV after first airing on a premium channel.
One TV looks to also be taking in content from independent producers. Already being teased are original series from AsterisK Digital Entertainment that will air on TV5/One TV.
Their first series, entitled My Extra Ordinary is apparently a BL (or boys love) drama. And that could certainly be a game changer and big splash for One TV’s relaunch.
And that’s the direction One TV should be moving towards. Programs that can be game changers.
I offered up two concepts a couple of months ago upon hearing that TV5 was gearing up for a return to fresh entertainment programs. Though half-joking, half-serious, the basic premise for both ideas still holds.
One of them was a complete reboot of the local Big Brother franchise. Though the format itself is on the downward trend, it certainly still has some name-recognition that would attract attention. And not just local attention either. Dedicated Big Brother fans around the world regularly seek out foreign franchises to enjoy when their local versions are on hiatus.
But the other concept was a local adaptation of the Produce 101 format. While the Korean mothership continues to deal with its controversies, the local versions in Japan and China have proven just as successful. Both as a television program and for the careers of the winning (and even losing) contestants.
It goes without saying that the Philippines is one of the biggest markets for Asian idols. Whether they be K-pop idols, Japanese stars or Thai actors.
A local Produce 101 would not only immediately draw attention to TV5/One TV from local fans, a well-produced series would draw the attention of people around the world.
And the success of the show will help boost the fortunes of the rest of the line-up. Having a signature, big splash show like a Produce 101 can really help TV5/One TV make an immediate impact.
(I’ll also continue hoping and praying for the miraculous return of The Amazing Race Philippines, also the potential for international attention. *giggle*)
The aforementioned upcoming BL drama is also a big risk, big reward concept.
But essentially, it also fits the bill with what TV5 had tried to do before. Offering out of the box concepts differentiated it from both ABS-CBN and GMA.
TV5’s least successful “era” was the Viva Era when it churned out a lifeless Panday remake and the bland 90s-style soap Bakit Manipis Ang Ulap.
That’s definitely not the way to go now. It’s time to transition to modern storytelling. Tackle new and different themes. Things not normally seen on Philippine television. And especially those themes seen regularly in shows from other countries that are hugely popular in the Philippines, but not seen on local TV.
Viewers repeatedly criticize the recycling of stories and concepts on ABS-CBN and GMA’s programs. So the right move for One TV would be to try those potentially groundbreaking and unexpected stories that people are really looking for.
Part of that format and creative disruption should include using TV5/One TV’s unique schedule to its advantage.
TV5 adapted Wattpad stories for 5-episode miniseries every week before transitioning to weekly “movies.” They also tried 13-episode weekly drama series.
And that included one dealing with an HIV-positive main character (Positive) long before Hindi Ko Kayang Iwan Ka and Mga Batang POZ. Both of which were less about educating viewers about HIV and more about being another kabit-serye and having hot guys in titillating scenes, respectively.
PBA games offer TV5/One TV the unique opportunity to try different scheduling than the usual currently seen on ABS-CBN and GMA.
TV5/One TV should focus on weekly series with high production quality. And TV5/One TV certainly can churn out such high-quality productions as shown by its Cignal originals.
Weekly series also present a premium feel to One TV’s eventual offerings.
It is easier to sell and market one-hour weekly series to viewers, both local and international, than 65+ episode daily soap operas. (It also makes for easier binge watching in the future too.)
Just like popular dramas from Korea, Japan and increasingly Thailand, that format will help future-proof TV5/One TV’s offerings.
And one hour a week requires less time investment from viewers at home, attracting more potential viewers than a daily soap.
Again, a good balance of news, sports and entertainment will help set the network apart from its two competitors.
A morning starting with news followed by Tagalized movies. Then the noontime news followed by reruns of Face to Face and classic TV5 programs in the afternoon. The evening newscast would lead-in to a primetime featuring PBA games on a few days of the week with new entertainment content on the other days.
A schedule like that minimizes the need for big initial spending. But allows for enough fresh and new content to attract viewers. Especially from those increasingly tired of the same, tired concepts from ABS-CBN and GMA.
Separate, but similar to the need of making the channel itself available to as many viewers as possible, One TV will need to make its content more accessible online.
One TV will need to put more effort into its social media presence.
Obviously living here in the United States, I don’t have access to everything available to people in the Philippines.
Cignal Play, for example, looks like a great app that would complement TV5/One TV. Especially when Cignal is the country’s #1 cable/satellite provider and Smart/PLDT subscribers are a built-in audience for the streaming service.
But the TV5 YouTube Channel is very bare, even at the height of TV5’s viewership years ago. One TV will need to consistently update that YouTube channel (along with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) with content. Social media is very important in order to truly get the word out to the public about what your network has to offer.
People can rewatch clips or full episodes of shows they may have missed. Or they can discover new clips which will then of course lead to them checking out the show and other programs on the line-up as well.
Having this content on social media (as opposed to exclusively on an app like Cignal Play) also makes it easier to share, thus raising awareness. And the cycle continues until more and more people are tuned in.
I always point to TV5 not uploading full episodes of The Amazing Race Philippines before. There obviously wasn’t a problem with the rights to doing so because they did upload a few episodes. But there were some times they’d upload an “episode” that was only 30 seconds long.
It’s that kind of undedicated effort to social media that definitely hindered any potential growth for TV5. The TV ratings were positive for a long time, but not having a social media footprint prevented the network from grabbing a wider audience. Especially with the aforementioned struggles with reach and availability.
Obviously, One TV will be launching at a very different time and circumstance from 2008 when ABC became TV5.
There are no contract stars. There is no dedicated entertainment department. It’s been years since there was new, original content on TV5.
But with the current temporary loss of ABS-CBN, this is a huge opportunity for TV5/One TV to at the very least assert itself and remind Filipinos that there is more than one or two channels available in the Philippines.
Again, the Philippines needs more choices, not less. And a TV5/One TV that can regain its footing is a positive for the industry and Filipinos. One can hope that this time, they have learned from the successes and failures of the last decade to make this rebranding and relaunching have a more positive outcome.