MANILA - The House of Representatives' denial of a new franchise to ABS-CBN pushed the company to accelerate its digital shift, company officials said Monday.
While ABS-CBN had already been offering its content on online platforms years before congressmen killed its broadcast franchise, the events of last year led it to shift its focus to digital, officials of the media giant said.
"Our game plan is simple: to tell the most meaningful stories, to tell it to as many people as possible hence our renewed focus on digital," ABS-CBN Head of Digital Eugenio Lopez IV said during the Internet & Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines' (IMMAP) virtual DigiCon POP 2021.
ABS-CBN Head of Digital Entertainment Richard Reynante said that because of its huge lead in broadcast then, the company didn’t realize the potential of its digital assets until last year.
“So, when the franchise denial happened, we had to take a hard look at our digital assets because they’re not affected by the franchise,” Reynante said.
The company then channeled its efforts into digital platforms by launching Kapamilya Online Live, beefing up its Facebook and YouTube presence, and consolidating and strengthening its iWant TFC platforms.
"It’s like watching Channel 2 but this time only on Facebook and on YouTube and so that’s how Kapamilya Online Live was born," Reynante said.
Kapamilya Online Live now gets 10 million to 15 million views everyday, Reynante said.
The company also partnered with streaming platforms like Netflix, as well as consolidating its own streaming services into iWant TFC. ABS-CBN also launched its own events platform KTX for online concerts and other events.
“We’re sitting on a gold mine in terms of our digital footprint. It’s an ongoing content and distribution discovery for us as an organization. We’re learning along the way,” said Elaine Uy Casipit, ABS-CBN Head of Business Development and Head of Digital Services.
ABS-CBN also enhanced its news output on digital, said ABS-CBN Head of News Digital Lynda Jumilla.
This was done through news.abs-cbn.com, the ABS-CBN News app, YouTube, Facebook and other social channels.
“Pushing content to digital right away sends the message to our team and our audience as well, that digital is important and a major platform for our journalism,” Jumilla said.
ABS-CBN ventured into podcasts for its news content so that people can listen to these on the company’s news and radio apps, on Spotify, and even on virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa.
The company also developed made-for-digital video stories under its NXT brand.
“NXT was born from the recognition of the need to have digital content,” Jumilla said.
ABS-CBN News’ 22.7 million followers on Facebook is the largest in the Philippines for a news organization. It has 3 other pages with a total of 17 million followers.
The ABS-CBN News YouTube channel has 12.9 million subscribers, which is one the highest in the Philippines.
Despite this, the company’s digital push is still a work in progress, Jumilla said.
ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel meanwhile is the biggest in Southeast Asia with 36.4 million subscribers, Lopez said.
The company produced digital series such as The House Arrest of Us, as well as online programs, said Olive Lamasan, managing director of ABS-CBN Films Productions Inc. or Star Cinema.
"We couldn't just sit there and wait and we felt that we had to do something to connect with our audience, we have to make our presence felt," she said.
Star Magic artists were also encouraged to boost their online presence and create contents for digital platforms, said ABS-CBN Head of Entertainment Production and Star Magic Lauren Dyogi.
Although scrutinizing talents was more difficult to do on Zoom, this has given the company a wider pool of potential artists as well, he said.
Auditions for reality shows poured in from across the globe, he said.
News.abs-cbn.com is the official website of ABS-CBN News.