This story appears in the October 2020 issue of Television Asia Plus.

Broadcast institution TV5 is ramping up its lifestyle and entertainment offerings as it contends to be one of the top broadcasters in the Philippines. Helmed by Cignal and TV5 President Robert P. Galang, TV5 forged a partnership with Cignal, the country’s top pay-TV provider in August 2020 in a block timer deal that would bring quality entertainment to more Filipino homes. 

Television Asia Plus (TVA): TV5 has had a long history of revamps and changes starting with being a free-to-air sports broadcaster.  How do you see TV5’s latest positioning?

Robert P. Galang (RPG): TV5 was a third playing trying to catch a moving train that already had the two market leaders driving it faster. We attempted multiple strategies to win our own set of loyal viewers. The recent developments in the Philippine TV industry and this global pandemic have created both challenges and opportunities that are unprecedented. Using learnings from our successes and failures, our team decided to pivot back to providing mainly entertainment content, adding a healthy mix of sports and news programs. 

TVA: Do you see Cignal playing a strategic role in TV5’s repositioning as an entertainment platform and what specific areas can Cignal contribute?

RPG: Cignal TV has been creating entertainment content for many years now. We also have very strong relationships with international content providers that give us access to an immense library of world-class content. The partnership with TV5 was a logical next step for us where we see Cignal TV providing the highest-quality entertainment and sports content, both local and international.

TVA: Instead of producing your own entertainment content, TV5 and Cignal will be focusing on show pitches from independent content producers. How will this be a game-changer for the Philippines’ local entertainment industry where other networks produce in-house content?

RPG: We get to cast a wider net this way. Rather than building an in-house team, we now have the opportunity to work with all the available experts out there on a per-project arrangement. It also allows more people to work on multiple projects simultaneously which speeds up the production process and the delivery of content to the network and, eventually, to our viewers. 

TVA: Could you share with us some of the shows that will be launched on TV5 and Cignal?

RPG: We launched our first installment of fresh, locally-produced content in August which ushered in TV5’s return to entertainment. We now have two primetime gameshows, Fill In the Bank and Bawal Na Game Show, that air alternately on weeknights. We introduced a morning talk show called Chika Besh, which we are hoping will form a daily morning habit among our female viewers. This is followed by a show that has gained such a huge fan base because it addresses concerns of the Filipino public called Idol in Action, hosted by Raffy Tulfo. We also strengthened our weekend primetime line-up with the return of TV5’s original talent search, Bangon Talentadong Pinoy, the introduction of an intimate talk show, Usapang Real Life, which reveals the lighter-side of premier broadcast journalist Luchi Cruz-Valdes, and a fitness show, Fit for Life, to kick-off our Sunday programming.

We have also been exclusively airing live NBA games since the season restart on Cignal’s NBA TV Philippines channel and our free-to-air channels, TV5 and OneSports. The availability of the NBA on our platforms is a major milestone in our quest to bring the best content to our viewers and subscribers.

We plan to roll-out more programs in the coming months. In September, we launched two popular K-dramas, Reply 1998 and Wok of Love, and you can expect another wave of variety shows, comedies, talk shows, and local adaptations of international formats starting in October. 

TVA: Aside from entertainment and sports content, what other areas are you open to exploring?

RPG: We are also beefing up our news and current affairs line-up which will be produced in-house by our News5 team. Aside from the locally-produced programs we launched, we are also strengthening our children’s programming with content from Cartoon Network and Rainbow SpA and expanding our entertainment genre offerings through our tie-ups with international content providers such as A+E, Telemundo, and JKN, among others.

TVA: How do you see TV5 capturing the Millennial audience who are more into mobile and streaming?

RPG: We remain committed to investing in emerging platforms and we’ve developed a good grasp of the nuances of the digital space which tends to skew towards a younger demographic.  

TV5 has been leveraging on digital platforms such as Youtube and Facebook in order to distribute our content to digital natives and have reaped the benefits in terms of digital monetisation revenues. Seeing this as a growth business, we plan to further expand our reach by publishing more digital-optimised content with a focus on short-form or snackable materials and introducing digital exclusives to complement our broadcast programming. We produce our content with digital in mind, breaking it down into “atomic” units that people can easily share online.

We are also quite bullish about eSports which started with Cignal TV’s participation in the Philippines’ premier eSports league called The Nationals. We’re also seeing good traction with Cignal Play, our flagship OTT product which we relaunched last March as a free streaming video service. TV5, through its partnership with Cignal TV, is available on this service.