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PBA’s real problem is translating large TV viewers into live audience


The background of this bit of playoff action between Meralco and NLEX says it all. —PBA IMAGES

The background of this bit of playoff action between Meralco and NLEX says it all. —PBA IMAGES

The PBA Philippine Cup playoffs has not been short of competitiveness with two quarterfinal pairings even going its three-game distance.

Unfortunately, the league could only hope that it could say the same thing about live attendance.

“It’s a reality for us,” commissioner Willie Marcial told the Inquirer, referring to the increasing number of empty seats in PBA games of late.“Our games are dependent on many things after all—like venues and matchups. But this is what I’m going to tell you, we’re hitting it big in TV,” he added.

The league has been subjected to criticism and ridicule for its dwindling attendance—something that has been made even more glaring when ranged against the sensational reception amateur and pro volleyball are drawing.

Marcial said he is taking comfort in the numbers it is generating through its broadcast on RPTV, which has hiked its usual figures.

“In a Wednesday game, we even rack up about 2 million viewers … [usually], we just reach 1 or 1.2 million,” he said.

But the league chief also knows that it doesn’t change the fact the empty seats are a worrying sight.

“The thing is, we can’t seem to convert [that into live attendance]. I’m not making excuses, but I think the [summer] heat, the economy—or even sawa (having too much of something) factor—have something to do with it.”

Marcial said the PBA leadership is looking to be more proactive about this latest trial, which comes months before the league’s 50th founding anniversary.

“We’ve recently held a summit with stakeholders, discussing what else we can do for the 49th season, which will happen within the golden anniversary,” the commissioner said.

“We’re looking to ramp up our buildup. And we are also planning to open our big celebrations to bidding so big organizers can come in,” he added.

For now, the league will have to rely on the inherent drama that comes with the rising stakes of the playoffs.

San Miguel, the defending champion of the crown jewel tournament, will try to rediscover its form when the Beermen battle a resurgent Terrafirma side eager to shed its doormat tag and take down the No. 1 team at 4:30 p.m. at Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Malate, Manila, on Wednesday.

In the nightcap, TNT, another traditional power, is also looking to stave off elimination against a young Rain or Shine crew that is maturing and learning to compete.

“They shot the basketball so well. They hit pretty much every look they had and we have to address that,” Beermen cornerstone June Mar Fajardo said of the eighth-seeded Dyip.



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“They’re a totally different team now,” added San Miguel ace CJ Perez. “You can’t afford to underestimate them. They’ve got good players. They have superstars, too.” INQ





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