After more than 20 years as the man who led ABS-CBN to its most colorful era in its history. Eugenio Gabriel “Gabby” Lopez has decided to become the media giant’s Chairman Emeritus and Board Consultant of the media titan.

Taking his place as Chairman of the Board is Martin “Mark” L. Lopez, a cousin of Gabby’s and the network’s Chief Technology Officer. At 45 years old, he is expected to lead ABS-CBN’s full transformation from a broadcasting powerhouse to a digitally-driven media company able to not only compete, but adapt at all forms of media.

With both Mark Lopez and company president Carlo L. Katigbak in their forties, they are poised to make the company swim the waters of a universe already disrupted by big internet giants such as Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

It was under Mark that ABS-CBN embarked on a massive digitization plan which includes high-definition, the network’s push into digital terrestrial TV, and the company’s move into a cloud-based infrastructure with a fully-automated system.


Gabby admits that broadcasting is a young person’s game and that the world he lived in was different when he moved to the chairmanship in 1997. He then felt that it was time to hand over the reins to someone who is more adept in the fast-paced movement of the digital world.

And yes, with Mark Lopez at the helm of The Philippines’ largest broadcaster, expect everything from the conglomerate to be just a click away.


Status quo

So, you may ask, what could be this Bob Iger look-alike do to my current anime viewing habit? Would he resurrect HERO and make it an all-digital portal where I can watch my favorite anime online, wherever? In my honest opinion, it will be just the same.

Maybe it was right for HEROtv to have lived, breathed, and died under the rule of Gabby Lopez. ABS-CBN probably thought that a new youth content portal would be better suited to be launched under the new Mark Lopez era, ringing in the start of a new era for the platform.


To be honest, HERO as an online portal has become a mishmash of content that at times borders on the absurd. Sure, its Facebook page when the cable channel was still airing was basically an EPG instead of being an effective marketing tool for its programming.

Now that HERO is simply a block on Jeepney TV called “HERO Zone”, featuring those anime shows that ABS-CBN still has the cable rights into, their Facebook page has become just a dumping ground of vacuous content, like the recent visit of Cole Sprouse here in Manila to interviews of ABS-CBN celebrities about their favorite anime shows and series.


Truth be told, I had expected so much from Lifestyle division head Ces Oreña-Drilon, who leads the team that runs the platform. At least under her direction, HERO could have gone a bit more straightforward in either reporting the latest anime news and developments in the pop culture world in a way that its target audience can relate to.

If I were in Mark Lopez’ shoes, I would take some time to take a good hard look at the youth audience and find out what it is looking for in a brand like HERO, which they have nurtured for no less than a decade.

I had high hopes for Carlo Katigbak but they were unfulfilled, so I am tempering my expectations of Mark Lopez for now. Perhaps he will bring about change in the network which it badly needs, but I am not as hopeful as before.


From “Free-to-Air” to “Pay to Watch
Photo from DTV Pilipinas

Filipinos following the developments in digital terrestrial TV (DTT) were shocked to find ANIPLUS Asia added to their tuners’ channel lineup. However, it shows as a “scrambled channel” as it can only be viewed on Solar Entertainment’s own DTT device EasyTV.

According to some screenshots of a leaked website that was posted on the DTV Pilipinas’ Facebook page, EasyTV is a DTT service which aims to mirror cable, down from the plans to the channel selection. It will also reportedly come on both a DTT box form and a mobile dongle.


Now, the question being raised here is not on the content itself per se, but on Solar’s plan to make digital terrestrial TV a money-making proposition. As I have said before on my Facebook post, there is indeed some precedent to paid DTT, as well as a raging debate on whether pay TV must be ‘platform-agnostic’, i.e. utilizing digital terrestrial, cable, and satellite to deliver pay television channels and services.

As much as I would love to be able to watch ANIPLUS, my position on DTT and pay TV is clear: the latter should only be limited to cable, satellite and IPTV; while all DTT channels must stay free-to-air and available on all devices.

I do not want to see terrestrial TV, and the digital kind in particular, eventually turn from Free-to-Air to Pay-to-Watch.


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The views and opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of Anime Pilipinas, its members, partners, and colleagues. If you have comments or reactions, please email at [email protected].