Commentary: An Unexpected Bit of Hope From ALLTV’s Soft Launch?

What’s with Willie Revillame being involved in ushering in new “eras” of Philippine TV? Lol

I say that in a joking manner, but also not as ALLTV makes its “soft launch” debut on Philippine terrestrial television.

The Manny Villar-owned Advanced Media Broadcasting System was awarded the frequencies of analog channel 2 and digital channel 16 at the beginning of this year. And although AMBS did not immediately have the resources or even content to fill those frequencies, they have rushed to flip the switch on the new ALLTV network. Thus, ushering in the next chapter in what has been a very colorful and tumultuous history in Philippine media.

AMBS taking over the former frequencies of the “shutdown” ABS-CBN has of course upset many loyal Kapamilyas who still held out hope that one-half of the Philippine media duopoly would regain control of their former over-the-air dial positions.

But that specific ship has sailed. And the hopes of ABS-CBN settling in its own, permanent OTA home will have to rest on finding another possible open slot on the TV dial. (Or in strategic “joint ventures,” which we’ve already talked about recently.)

Like it or not, (and there’s definitely a lot of nots), ALLTV is here and it might very well stay.

I wasn’t planning on live tweeting its “soft launch,” but it ended up being quite a fascinating few hours. Aside from its OTA debut on the former ABS-CBN frequencies, the new network livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube, utilizing both dedicated new ALLTV accounts and the far more popular existing Wowowin accounts.

I was ready at 12pm sharp on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. But for about 20 minutes, a loop of the ALLTV logo bumper played and it seemed like an ominous start for the new network.

The hesitation would subside though when they finally started their program.

The first moments of ALLTV featured live performances from the Palazzo Verde venue in Alabang. If you’ve watched any big Wowowin or Wowowee opening number, this ALLTV opening will seem very familiar. And perhaps that’s to be expected. ALLTV being an upstart with a lack of resources and signed talent, it is expected that de facto creative director Willie Revillame and his team will stick to what they know. At least for now when Kuya Wil said himself that they’ve rushed to flip the switch in order to make it in time for Christmas.

Anyway, from Alabang, the launch show shifted over to Wil Tower in Quezon City. The tall mixed-used condominium project, located just across the street from ABS-CBN world headquarters, has been the home of Willie Revillame’s Wowowin since the start of COVID lockdowns. And for today at least, it was where most of ALLTV’s opening day programming originated.

Revillame first appears on the helipad of Wil Tower with a huge ALLTV logo set as the backdrop to the rooftop stage. He welcomes viewers to the new network before then welcoming signed AMBS talent Toni Gonzaga to join him. For now, both are essentially the faces of ALLTV.

I tweeted how seeing Willie Revillame and Toni Gonzaga together felt like I was watching the launch of Pinoy Big Brother on ABS-CBN back in 2005. Together, they were the main hosts of what has become ABS-CBN’s signature reality show. But now, neither are ABS-CBN talents and are instead at the forefront of a new network launch taking place just across the street from their former employer.

^The tweet surprisingly took off. But what wasn’t surprising was the equal number of positive and negative reactions to the sight of Revillame and Gonzaga as well as ALLTV itself.

Filipinos against the idea of ALLTV as well as having ill-feelings toward Willie Revillame or Toni Gonzaga is not unexpected. Those feelings are as much a product of #NetworkWarCulture and blind loyalty as it is a result of fiercely divisive politics.

And politics certainly can’t be ignored when watching these first hours of ALLTV. The perception is this new network will essentially be yet another propaganda arm of the current Marcos administration. And for many moments during his launch, it almost seemed that way.

Accompanying Toni Gonzaga as co-hosts of this big launch party was signed AMBS talent (and also former Pinoy Big Brother host) Mariel Rodriguez whose husband Robin Padilla was elected senator under the current administration’s slate of candidates.

But another signed AMBS talent, Ciara Sotto, was also present. And during a segment where Toni Gonzaga promoted her exclusive interview with President Bongbong Marcos, the awkwardness in the room pierced through the screen. Ciara Sotto is of course the daughter of former Senate president and former Vice Presidential candidate Tito Sotto.

As Toni Gonzaga gushed over her interview with President Marcos, Ciara Sotto politely smiled, but was relatively reserved during that time. It’s not hard to see why. But when you also include the fact that Ruffa Gutierrez and Ella Cruz, both stars of the controversial film Maid in Malacanang, were present at the table, it just added to that awkwardness. And certainly feeds the idea that this new network has a specific political leaning.

What’s more interesting to me, however, is the presence of Ruffa Gutierrez and Ella Cruz appearing not as contract stars of AMBS/ALLTV, but merely as guest artists. They were joined by fellow Viva artists Donnalyn Bartolome, Kim Molina, Katrina Velarde and Janine Tenoso as well.

A few months ago, it was reported that Willie Revillame and AMBS bosses met with Viva’s Vic Del Rosario about potentially working together (read: not a “joint venture”). Whether that meant allowing Viva artists on AMBS productions or Viva itself producing content for AMBS, it was not known. But on launch day, it seems that the rumored AMBS-Viva partnership is a very real thing.

Perhaps most striking though was Julia Barretto as a featured guest. Not only was she here to promote her new Viva movie, but she, like many people on the internets, was surprised to learn that two of her old ABS-CBN teleseryes would be airing on ALLTV.

It was announced earlier in the day that the Julia Barretto-starrers Ngayon at Kailanman and Doble Kara would be airing back-to-back in afternoon timeslots, seven-days a week.

And with these moves, AMBS/ALLTV’s programming line-up seems a lot clearer now.

In another recent commentary, I talked about how it will be interesting to see how AMBS could possibly field content so quickly after only just recently forming as a television entity.

Just last week, it was announced that ALLTV inked a deal to simulcast CNN Philippines’ evening newscast. I was definitely pleasantly surprised by that news actually. But I think the increasing simulcast strategies of GMA, ABS-CBN and even TV5/OneSports seems to have led to this pretty good deal between AMBS and CNN Philippines.

Then a few days ago, keyart of the Ji SooNa In Woo-Kim So Hyun headlining River Where the Moon Rises featured prominently on ALLTV promotional material.

Now it looks like, initially, ALLTV will be filled with acquired programs from ABS-CBN and Korea alongside CNN Philippines simulcasts, Toni Gonzaga’s popular YouTube interview series and ALLTV’s marquee show Wowowin in primetime. A former Wowowin segment, Instajam, has also been turned into its own show. While an apparent morning talk show with Mariel Rodriguez and Ciara Sotto is also in the works.

While it’s still a pretty barebones line-up, it’s actually more than I ever expected back when it was announced they’d be up and running sooner rather than later.

I certainly expect to see more independent productions finding slots on ALLTV. That includes productions from Viva and other companies as well.

And as much as loyal fans of ABS-CBN may deride ALLTV as “cheap” or “baduy,” (as evidenced by the replies to my livetweeting of the launch) I know for sure that they will switch up very quick when fresh, original Kapamilya-produced content finds a home on the network in the future. And I actually really believe that could happen.

And I would actually love that to happen. It’s what I laid out as part of the “ideal” Philippine media landscape. Having ABS-CBN, GMA and TV5 cross-collaborate, cross-pollinate, cross-everything in order to tear down #NetworkWar walls and have a more open, collaborative environment in Philippine media.

Have artists and creatives be able to work across network lines. No one loses in that situation. Everyone wins. And that includes viewers at home most especially.

With a network name like ALLTV, you should expect that ALL are welcome. And that doesn’t just refer to the audience, but to talents and creatives from other networks and companies too.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a big hurdle to that ideal world. Circling back to politics, emotions are still running high amongst Filipinos after the recently concluded election.

I was again pleasantly surprised that ALLTV was able to score an SB19 performance on Wowowin. And it was a pretty great performance from them, promoting their world tour and newest single.

Watching their performance, I remembered how much Willie Revillame wanted to produce a music performance concert show. He was so interested, he begged GMA bosses live on air to co-produce such a show with him in order to feature talented young GMA Artist Center talents who basically weren’t getting the exposure they needed or deserved.

It was a good idea. But GMA, frugal (to put it nicely) as they are, didn’t bite. But now as Willie Revillame has much more creative control over an entire network line-up, his dream of producing such a show could potentially result in a weekly music show featuring P-pop artists.

I’d always wondered which network would produce a show patterned after the weekly Korean music shows, but featuring artists at the forefront of the fast-rising P-pop movement.

I originally though TV5 would be the network, especially with their partnership (not-joint venture) with Mnet for exclusive Philippine rights to M Countdown (via Smart). Perhaps a M Countdown Philippines or something.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, it might be more likely that ALLTV ends up being the perfect venue for such a show featuring P-pop and OPM artists. A concert show not tied or limited to one network’s stable of stars like ASAP and All Out Sundays are to their respective networks.

Anyway, coming back to SB19’s performance. What I was surprised by was the apparent reaction by some fans toward the group’s appearance on the network. Some were upset that appearing on Wowowin meant the group endorsed a specific political ideology or person. Some comments suggested a full-on boycott of the new network. Others were about ready to give up on the group.

Most of the comments, however, were less doomsday and merely appreciating another chance for their favorite group to promote themselves to a new audience.

This kind of division and contempt for ALLTV could be the new network’s biggest challenge. Even more than actually filling its airwaves with content. But like I mentioned earlier, seeing that ALLTV was indeed welcome to all (including content from rival companies) provokes an unexpectedly hopeful feeling.

Rather than starting to build yet another wall between networks, ALLTV seems poised to help the existing networks continue to tear down the walls instead. Those #NetworkWar walls have been considerably chipped away at in recent years. And with this new Philippine media player reaching across those walls to help fill their timeslots, the ideal Philippine media landscape might still be attainable yet.

3 thoughts on “Commentary: An Unexpected Bit of Hope From ALLTV’s Soft Launch?

    1. πŸ˜‚ Well, I’d be more surprised if they didn’t do anything to get their content out there. But perhaps we’ll see some GMA and TV5 classics on ALLTV as well. Turn into a mini-Fox Filipino/One Screen on free TV. πŸ˜‚

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