The game you love is home.
With this tagline, Filipino basketball fans are in for a reunion with NBA basketball as the league and Cignal TV have finally agreed on a three-year deal that is set to bring the league back on Philippine television.
Starting July 31 Manila time, when the restart of the 2019-20 season in a bubble in Orlando, Florida officially gets underway, games will be carried live on TV5 and One Sports, as well as on Cignal's dedicated NBA channel, NBA TV Philippines.
The deal with the NBA will also cover games from August to September, but the first year of the contract will officially start in December or when the 2020-21 season opens.
"We're very happy that we are finally able to close this deal with the NBA even during the pandemic, even during this very difficult time for all of us. And finally, the NBA is home -- in Cignal," said Cignal and TV5 President and CEO Robert Galang.
"The NBA is one of the biggest additions to our portfolio of sports brands that we really want to bring to the Filipinos. I think we're one of the best brands to bring it because we've got the biggest pay TV subscriber base in the country," said Guido Zaballero, Cignal TV First Vice President and Head of Marketing.
Games will be aired live on free TV through One Sports (channel 41 on free TV, channel 6 on Cignal TV) twice a week during Fridays and Mondays. TV5, on the other hand, will show games live on Saturdays and Sundays.
For Pay TV subscribers, an average of two live games will be broadcasted daily on NBA TV Philippines, Cignal's own version of the NBA TV channel for subscribers of certain prepaid and postpaid plans. Unlike free TV, the channel -- channel 96 for standard definition and channel 262 for high definition -- will also show shoulder programming and magazine shows from NBA TV.
"What will happen is we're making sure that our channel, NBA TV Philippines, is going to be the best, the most premium experience. There will be times na may games si TV5 at kapag magandang game 'yan, it will also be on NBA TV Philippines. Hindi naman siya exclusive. We can actually simulcast the games," Zaballero explained.
On top of that, Galang said Cignal TV will "definitely offer" NBA for syndication to other cable operators.
The agreement comes a little under 10 months after channels held by Solar Entertainment, which formerly had the rights to air the league's games, went off the air after its contract expired last September 30.
Galang said Cignal and TV5 engaged in contract discussions with the NBA "the minute their contract expired."
"It really took a long time. Syempre we also needed to make sure it needed to make commercial sense for us," he explained. "It just took us longer than we would have wanted. But the good news is finally we will be able to bring the games back not just on Cignal but also in the Philippines."
"Our desire was really to close the deal with them for this regular season. And then all of a sudden, this pandemic hit," Zaballero added. "The minute that they informed us they will be reviving the games in their bubble, of course we said we have to be a part of that."
In return, Cignal TV, according to Galang, will create locally-produced shows about the NBA as one of their many contributions.
"In a nutshell, we help them spread the love for their brand, especially because basketball-fanatic country 'to eh," Zaballero said.
With 2.3 million subscribers across the country, Zaballero said Cignal is the "perfect platform" to carry the NBA's brand.
"I'd like to reassure our valued subscribers in the Philippines that we in Cignal really share their passion for the NBA and for basketball. Our commitment to all of you is to be able to deliver really the most premium experience of the NBA straight into your homes," he said. "We've fought long and hard to be able to do this, and finally we're here. It's very exciting -- it's exciting for Cignal, it's exciting for our valued subscribers.
"The game you love is home."