This article is part of a series commemorating the House of Representatives’ 70-11 vote on July 10, 2020 rejecting ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. The author is head of ABS-CBN Corporate Communications.
The year marked by the global pandemic and the shutdown of its broadcast operations saw the birth of many innovations in ABS-CBN that accelerated its digital transformation to provide a meaningful service to the Filipino people.
The digital platform also became a creative playground for ABS-CBN content producers in developing various content in traditional and new formats to meet the needs of its viewers.
Today, ABS-CBN remains present and felt in the lives of Filipinos as it streams entertainment shows, news programs, virtual events, digital movie series, music, and podcasts on various digital platforms.
With cinemas and live entertainment venues still closed, KTX.ph became an online platform for viewers to watch ABS-CBN Films’ groundbreaking digi-movie series “The House Arrest of Us,” BL series “Hello Stranger,” Daniel Padilla’s live virtual concert “Apollo,” “U-Turn,” “Love or Money” and many other Filipino movies, stage plays, and concerts.
The success of the Kathryn Bernardo-Daniel Padilla’s pandemic-inspired digital romcom movie series “The House Arrest of Us” crossed over to Netflix, where it topped the list of the most popular titles in the Philippines, UAE, Qatar and made it to the top 10 list in other countries.
ABS-CBN even staged the first virtual star-studded, fund-raising concert for ABS-CBN Foundation’s “Pantawid ng Pag-ibig” campaign that drew 3.7 million online views and helped raise funds to support those who lost their sources of income due to the community quarantine.
Filipinos get to continue following the adventures of Cardo Dalisay in the widely popular “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano” and other entertainment programs online through the Kapamilya Online Live portal on ABS-CBN Entertainment’s Facebook and YouTube accounts.
The ABS-CBN Entertainment YouTube channel has grown its subscribers to 35.1 million with over 44.1 billion lifetime views, making it the most subscribed and most viewed YouTube channel in Southeast Asia.
One of the most-watched programs on YouTube is “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,” which made an eight-consecutive-day record-breaking streak of concurrent viewers peaking to 156,099 on June 8.
ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel has recently rolled out English-dubbed teleseryes available until July 31 to cater to a global audience. These include “Doble Kara,” “It Might Be You,” and “Crazy For You.”
Five other blockbuster Filipino movies are also streaming with English subtitles, such as “Super Parental Guardians,” “How To Be Yours,” “Just the 3 of Us,” “All You Need is Pag-ibig,” and “Kusina Kings.”
ABS-CBN also strengthened its streaming service by merging iWant and TFC.tv. Now called iWantTFC, it offers advanced episodes of teleseryes, streaming of ABS-CBN channels, and other well-loved titles in its library. On top of that, it also puts out original content such as romcoms, experimental series, movies, and documentaries.
To reach an even wider audience, ABS-CBN also partnered with regional streaming service WeTV iflix for the advanced streaming of some ABS-CBN primetime shows. Several ABS-CBN series and films are also available on Netflix, reaching Filipinos and global audiences.
Like a true media pioneer, ABS-CBN extended its digital foray to new and promising platforms like kumu, now the nation’s biggest livestreaming and social entertainment service.
It launched channels like FYE (For Your Entertainment), SeenZone, Game KNB, and MYX PH last year on kumu, where over 100 Kapamilya artists are now streamers thanks to a partnership with Star Magic.
The search for the new housemates for “Pinoy Big Brother Connect” was held on kumu. It attracted a record-breaking 177,524 audition entries in the history of the Pinoy reality TV show.
Last week, Star Cinema also announced a partnership with kumu for the film “Love at First Stream” to be directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina for the platform.
Nevertheless, despite its success on digital, ABS-CBN has strived to increase its presence on television, which remains a leading source of news and entertainment for many Filipinos.
Relentless and passionate in finding ways to serve its audiences worldwide, the company forged strategic collaborations to bring its shows on TV.
ABS-CBN entertainment shows are now seen on TV5 nationwide and A2Z in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. On cable TV, viewers can tune into various ABS-CBN channels like Kapamilya Channel, Jeepney TV, Metro Channel, Cinema One, and CineMo for entertainment, and ANC and TeleRadyo for news.
ABS-CBN News has also solidified its presence online, delivering news that matters to Filipinos through its social media accounts, YouTube channel, and mobile apps.
The record-breaking livestreaming of “TV Patrol” on May 7 last year reached 7.5 million views on Facebook within hours, while it had 73,000 peak concurrent views on YouTube as Filipinos welcomed back the newscast after going off-air on May 5.
ABS-CBN also enhanced its ABS-CBN News App with new listen and voice search features that allow users to listen to articles while on the go and use their voices to find news stories.
ABS-CBN Music also continues to produce and promote new music by both established and upcoming artists through its various record labels. Iñigo Pascual, for instance, just launched his first international album, “Options,” this June under Tarsier Records.
Also making waves in the global arena are ABS-CBN teleseryes. “Sandugo” and “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano” have started airing in 41 countries in Africa. Turkey has adapted “Hanggang Saan” as “A Mother’s Guilt,” which premiered on Fox Turkey last November. Other Kapamilya shows are also entertaining foreign audiences in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
ABS-CBN also produced “Almost Paradise,” a 10-episode crime drama series with Hollywood’s Electric Entertainment, which showcased the talent of Filipinos on and off cam.
All these achievements and milestones, achieved in just over a year, show how the company spots opportunities and remains fully committed to growing and evolving together with the audiences it has vowed to serve.
Wherever the Filipinos go, trust that ABS-CBN will find a way to provide a relevant and meaningful service. At the heart of all the things it does is the mission to be in the service of The Filipino.
ABS-CBN is thankful for the unwavering trust, love, and support of the Filipino people, who inspire the company and its people every day in sharing their stories and champion the Filipino talent.
As this piece is ending, new shows are developing and new ideas brimming. ABS-CBN’s journey with the Filipino people continues. Heartened by and forever grateful for the people’s trust, ABS-CBN is still here, thriving and ever evolving, despite the challenges it continues to face.