UFC LOSES BALLS AND GOES HYPER; NETFLIX PHILIPPINES DISAPPOINTS; BBC DISAPPEARS
Fans of the ferociously popular Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the Angeles City area got a rude awakening at the beginning of the year when they tuned in to watch the weekly UFC live shows on Converge Cable channel 90 (Balls) only to discover that the Balls channel had completely disappeared.
Well, you can stop pounding the up and down buttons on your remote looking for Balls because the ABS-CBN owned all-sports channel has ceased to exist. The Philippine network giant pulled the plug on the channel and has moved all its sports content onto something called ABS-CBN Sports and Action, which airs on Converge channel 15.
However, don’t go looking for the UFC on channel 15 because it’s not there either. In fact, if you’ve got Converge Cable TV, you can no longer watch the UFC events live. That’s because the UFC has inked a deal for its Philippine TV rights with a new all-sports channel called ‘Hyper.’ And, unfortunately for Converge subscribers, you can only receive Hyper if you subscribe to Converge’s rival, Cignal TV.
Scoring the UFC is quite the coup for Philippine businessman Manny Panginilan, who set up Hyper and also owns the terrestrial TV-5. TV-5 does air the UFC shows but on a 12-hour delayed basis. But if have Converge and want to watch the UFC live, you are now out of luck. The free ride of thrilling live UFC fight cards that went on for the last seven years is now over. If you want the UFC live, you either have to go to your favorite local sports bar, subscribe to Cignal, or find a way to stream it online.
The New Year brought exciting news for TV addicts as the US subscription Internet streaming giant Netflix announced it had now gone global, including offering its services in the Philippines. In the US, Netflix streams thousands of top movies and TV shows, including many original movies and programs that cannot be found anywhere else.
On their website, Netflix is offering its HD premium plan for just P550 per month. It’s a month-to-month deal with no contract, and you can stream their content on up to four devices, including your TV, laptop, and smartphone. Considering that Netflix shows just about everything and more, this deal sounds too good to be true. Could this be the end of locally offered cable TV? A closer look at what’s on offer indicates no.
It turns out that Netflix in the Philippines offers only around 20% of the content that Netflix US offers. Another bummer is that internet speeds in the Philippines being what they are…sadly the worst in Asia…means that the content you do stream might often look pixelated.
The concept of Netflix and other internet streaming services certainly has a lot of promise. But until the content offered and the local Internet drastically improves, we are still stuck with our local providers of cable TV.
If you are a news junkie like me, you have surely been cursing your TV screen over the last few months as BBC World News has completely disappeared from Converge’s channel lineup. There’s a notice up on Channel 21 saying that there’s some kind of technical difficulties and that they are working on fixing it. My sources tell me that BBC World News has gone from free-to-air to a paid service. Until Converge signs a new contract with BBC World News, the station will remain off the air.
Of course, Converge isn’t offering any discounts to its subscribers. But they should at least offer an alternative news channel like Al Jazeera English. I can only take so much of the American-centric CNN and can’t even watch the idiotic demagoguery that is Fox News.