MANILA — As Cardo leapt to YouTube on Tuesday, so too did loyal viewers of "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano," with its live stream's concurrent viewers, or those watching at the same time, peaking at 56,000.
The July 14 episode's official hashtag, #FPJAP4Nagbabalik, also ranked among the trending topics on Twitter in the Philippines.
"Nagbabalik" was the first episode to be streamed in full on YouTube since the action drama became a regular offering on the video-sharing platform starting this week.
Live streams of "Ang Probinsyano" episodes on YouTube are available to view only for a limited time after the 8 p.m. airing.
Episode recaps and key scenes are uploaded regularly, and in recent weeks, have each drawn hundreds of thousands of views within just days — an indication of audience clamor for access to Cardo's crime-fighting adventures.
"Ang Probinsyano's" digital move came after its home network ABS-CBN was denied last a week a fresh 25-year broadcast franchise by Duterte allies in Congress.
ABS-CBN's other broadcast platforms, TVPlus and SKYdirect, were also forced shut by the government.
Aside from the official YouTube channel of ABS-CBN, "Ang Probinsyano" can also be viewed via iWant, Kapamilya Channel and CineMo on cable TV, as well as The Filipino Channel or TFC.
The government shutdown of ABS-CBN was the second blow to the network and its 11,000 employees — dozens of whom belong to "Ang Probinsyano" — on top of the pandemic that has cost many Filipinos their livelihood.
As a free-television program, "Ang Probinsyano" was the country's undisputed No. 1 show throughout its four years on air, according to nationwide data of Kantar Media.
As recently as February 2020, the last full recorded month prior to the coronavirus lockdown, it retained that distinction, with an average national TV rating of 34%. Its viewership peaked in October 2018, with a mammoth 47.2% rating.