'TV isn't going to die' and other insights on digital shift from ABS-CBN execs

Arlene Burgos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2019 08:10 PM | Updated as of Oct 19 2019 09:31 AM

MANILA -- Television is not going to die, the music business is still about the song, and digital news boils down to journalism.

With these insights, officials of ABS-CBN involved in seeing through its push towards digital shared the broadcasting company's firm hold on core values and relevant content amid a company-wide transformation.

These views were shared at the Philippine International Convention Center on Thursday, Day 2 of this year's DigiCon, an annual gathering of the country's leading brands, agencies, technology suppliers, publishers, which has emerged as a forum for discussing the future of digital marketing in the country.

Its iWant over-the-top content platform gave ABS-CBN chance to respond to a wider range of audiences with diversified content offerings, said Vivian Tin, Head of Integrated Customer Business Development.

IWant viewership did not eat into the core ABS-CBN Channel 2 audience but even sharpened ABS-CBN's knowledge of its market, Tin said.
"Surprisingly, TV viewing hasn't dropped for ABS-CBN Channel 2. What has happened is we have realized that our audience, they are not one-faceted people, they're multifaceted people. And there are things that TV can give them...other things they look for. And this other facet of them gets their expression in iWant content, and so to be able to serve a person's content needs in their totality, having iWant helps with that," Tin said.

Her quick response when asked if digital has disrupted TV: "Television is not going to die."

Has TV been disrupted by digital?

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Elaine Uy-Casipit, who heads iWant, said the goal is to try several storytelling tacks in different ways and forms to be responsive to audience wants and needs.

"There is a lot more individualized viewing and we have to serve it and evolve our company and transform to be able to cater to different voices that want to actually get content from us in the form that they wanted, so it's a complementary service of both content innovation, at the same time, our platform innovation," Uy-Casipit said.

Others in the panel where ABS-CBN officials sat cited the relevance of core offerings and values.


Lynda Jumilla, a broadcast journalist who now leads ABS-CBN News Digital as Executive Editor, said being on digital did not diminish the need to stick to what is essential.

"You want to be there, you want to be relevant, and you want to be seamless. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to journalism and news. We understand that people want to express themselves, to self-publish and so we would like to help everyone distill news as it is: accurate, timely, relevant to all of you, to the news consumer, outside of all that noise in the digital space," Jumilla said.

How digital has affected news, music

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"At the heart of it all, even as you almost on a daily or monthly basis change or transform your channel, your way of delivering news, for instance, you go back to what is really your core. And for us, the core is journalism, the core is news, and we always make sure that we go by the tenets of our values," Jumilla said.


The music industry has been both challenged and helped by the digital shift; yet some things also remain constant.

Jonathan Manalo, audio content head of Star Music, said technology has affected the listening habits of Filipinos, with the shift to personal listening rendering irrelevant boom boxes and big set-up speakers because "people now are listening with their phone, small speakers, headsets."

Watch more in iWantTFC

The most streamed artist since last year has been Moira, who is an easy listening artist, Manalo said. This speaks volumes about how people preferred personal or solo listening.

"Gusto ko lang maghugot. Kaya nauso mga hugot, 'di ba?" he said about the music.

"Content has always been king when it comes to music. It's always the song, what is the song... The more successful artists right now are those who can create their own songs. Right now, it's important to find the storytellers, those who can tell stories, stories that people can relate to," Manalo said.
This demonstrated how digital technology and the data it brought helped music, Tin said.

"Music is such an individualized expression of what is inside and the likes of Spotify have allowed 'micro' stars to become really popular, responsive to different segments. Therefore, when we think about music, music actually has been helped a lot by digital. It led to growth, it led to a lot of appreciation that otherwise mass media wouldn't have given it," Tin said.

Tin said ABS-CBN is engaging in the technology and will be aggressive.

"You will see us move a lot faster in the next two to three years. You'll see a lot more products and services that are going to be launched that do not feel like us because we are disrupting, and I think erasing the old self, and recreating something, that's new."


But the company is also careful to remain close to its core.

Bryan Santiago, ABS-CBN Innovation Officer, said understanding the ABS-CBN audience, what are important to them, and how to serve their needs will be key in any transformation effort.

Uy-Casipit echoed this: "It's really more of, how do you transform your company in a world of digital?... So, go back to your consumers, where they are, what they do, and go back to your core, and you'll be able to transform your whole organization forward."

Digital transformation or transforming in digital?

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This year's DigiCon had the audience breaking into smaller sessions according to the following tracks: Lead, Explore, Apply, and Practice or LEAP.

DigiCon 2019 organizer, the Internet & Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP), has been pushing for a culture of digital excellence in the country.

Since 2007, IMMAP has been advocating the use of technology for marketing and economic development in the Philippines.