This weekend was a good example of the challenges the PBA faces as far as popularity, attendance and viewership is concerned. While many have been quick to declare the demise of the league the past decade, I think it has held up pretty well under the circumstances. After the TNT walkout controversy, it seems the buzz went down a notch despite the most popular teams being in the final 4. Heck, there seems to be more interest right now on the email and verbal exchange (initiated by Jaermark Tordecilla through his blog firequinito.com) between Jamal Sampson and the SBP program than the blowouts of the first few games of the semis.
As far as sports tv viewing is concerned, there was the NBA All Star Weekend and the Vancouver Winter Olympics opening to compete with this V Day weekend. These two big events would not have been shown live a couple of decades ago on TV. Add to that the Pinoy Power Boxing card by Top Rank and ABS-CBN and the Asian Basketball League (ABL) playoffs on TV5 and ESPN and it's really difficult to place the PBA above the trees in a dense sports forrest. Then there's all the other non sports activities and television programs available to the public now, then it's really a much tougher market for Asia's first pay for play league. More sports channels, more entertainment channels, more movie channels, more channels in general. What about the Hot Air Baloon festival in Clark? The Pyrolympics in MOA? More concerts now seem to be staged. All the nice Malls and hangout places around that didn't exist back then? So much other stuff to spend money and time on.
That being said, I think the league has done well despite the much tougher competition. I do think they should focus on marketing a lot more as their competition continues to step it up as well. The league needs to find the followers beyond the die hards who will watch no matter what. Can't keep on depending on Ginebra winning, or teams walking out.
So as I channel surf, the PBA still gets a share of surfing destination but a lot of other stuff is driving down the share that it currently has. After all that's said and done, the PBA as a whole is still the most watched sporting league in the Philippines.
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