6 Ways ABS-CBN can operate without a franchise
Just a quick recap, ABS-CBN’s 25-year legislative franchise is about to expire in March 2020. Bills have been filed as early as 2014 but those didn’t come thru. ABS-CBN had sought the renewal 6 years before the expiration of its franchise because it didn’t want to risk having to go through the process under an unfriendly administration.
There are currently 11 pending bills in Congress addressing this renewal but they have not even passed thru committee hearings. By all accounts, it looks like these bills will not meet the March 30, 2020 deadline.
Legal and political issues aside, the franchise covers the ability of ABS-CBN to broadcast over the airwaves. This means no airing on free-to-air TV (Channel 2) and radio (DZMM 630KHz, MOR 101.9) because in order to use these frequencies, one needs a franchise.
Other channels of ABS-CBN do not need this, including cable channels like ANC, Myx, Metro Channel, C1, and Jeepney TV.
So yes, no more Channel 2 on free TV or DZMM over the radio when this happens. But, that does not mean ABS-CBN will cease to operate. They can still partially/fully operate. In fact, they have to continue operating because they have so many customers or viewers outside the free-to-air TV and radio channels.
Simply put, the Kapamilya network’s problem is content distribution so here are 6 ways that ABS-CBN can continue to operate and digitally broadcast all of its shows and news programs even without a legislative franchise.
Facebook. With over 70 million users in the Philippines, ABS-CBN can broadcast all of its news programs and shows over Facebook (FB Live). This would be the easiest way to continue its regular programming that will reach the highest number of audience.
By doing a Facebook Live session, ABS-CBN can stick to the usual schedules and all Kapamilya fans can watch it live or just do a replay from the saved sessions. With more than 75 million mobile phone users in the Philippines and around half of that are smartphones, ABS-CBN can virtually increase its footprint and reach many more people.
YouTube. Just like with Facebook, ABS-CBN can live broadcast all its daily programs over YouTube. They can either do a YouTube Live session for the entire day’s programming or upload a separate video for each time slot or program so that viewers can easily sift thru and watch them at a later time.
There are actually tons of videos of ABS-CBN shows that are being uploaded on YouTube every day by different users or YouTube channels but ABS-CBN immediately shuts them down with copyright strikes (intellectual property claims). ABS-CBN also has a few official YouTube channels with millions of subscribers but not all shows and news programs are uploaded there.
Netflix. Cardo Dalisay need not have to suffer a horrible end come March 30, 2020. This long-running Kapamilya series can live on with Netflix, along with many other series that ABS-CBN is broadcasting. They can even serve it at a crispy 4k resolution. There are already hundreds of thousands of Netflix users in the Philippines with many more Filipinos abroad.
iWant.ph ABS-CBN has been operating the iWant TV as a stand-alone streaming website for ABS-CBN, ANC and DZMM shows along with many other movies it produces and they’re already making money (P15/day, P60/week, P120/month) from subscriptions for these (iWant TV was rebranded as iWant last November 17, 2018).
They also have an app for this in the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play Store (just search for iWant).
TFC.tv The Filipino Channel is an online platform originally developed to cater to the OFW market. Its online component is TFC.tv that streams a lot of ABS-CBN shows including TFC, ANC, DZMM Teleradyo, ABS-CBN Regional Channel, Lifestyle Network, Cinema One, CineMo, and S+A.
It comes with a free version with limited streaming shows and movies but at Php375/month, you can watch the entire library of 500 Filipino movies and one KBO movie of your choice per month.
Apple TV. Just like Netflix, Apple users might rejoice if ABS-CBN content will be readily available on Apple TV.
As for DZMM and MOR, they can also stream via Spotify.
In a way, if and when the ABS-CBN franchise is canceled (due to the quo warranto case) or not renewed in time (legislative franchise), the most affected viewers would be the ones who solely rely on the free-to-air TV and they are still in the millions. But as we mentioned above, there are many ways to distribute these content for free and without affecting the ability of the network to continue operating. We are pretty sure ABS-CBN has already thought of all these solutions and perhaps many more.
So don’t worry, Cardo Dalisay will not meet his untimely end any time soon.