I’ve Always Been a Fan of Local TV Ratings

Last semester, the person behind the LRT voice over (among many other credits), Ms. Pinky Aseron, became my professor in my first ever Broadcast Communication class (BC 100) in college. Her subject was an introductory course for BC freshmen, so majority of what we discussed the entire semester was about the history of television programming in the Philippines. Being an avid viewer of several local television programs—from teleseryes to variety shows to imported programs—I found myself very active in her class. Most of the time, when she had a story to tell to the class about a certain TV program, I would ‘unconsciously’ give a follow-up trivia, or additional information. In fact, I would sometimes detail to the class the viewership of that certain program—what show is becoming phenomenal, what show is slowly but surely gaining followers, or what show is becoming a flash in the pan. Participating in her class was very effortless for me that at one point, Ms. Pinky told me I can be a “media historian”, or a broadcast analyst.

I know it’s quite an exaggerated conclusion, because of course, my knowledge about media is still limited. But then, when she told me that, aside from being tremendously flattered, a realization hit me—I really know what I was talking about in class! I would admit that I’m not much of a current-affairs guy; I’m more of a trivial-showbiz-news person. Every day, I would visit entertainment news websites to know what latest kabaduyan local celebrities are up to. But more importantly, I would search for the TV ratings data provided by AGB Nielsen and Kantar Media to find out what TV shows are trending and which between ABS-CBN and GMA7—both claiming that they are Number 1—is telling the goddamn truth.

Some debates will never just get the closure they deserve. Photo from rappler.com.

Some debates will never just get the closure they rightfully deserve. Photo from rappler.com.

My fascination started when I was really young. I remember my dad used to watch ABS-CBN and GMA7 shows, and he often compared which among counterpart programs was better. I remember my mom sometimes talk about celebrities, and she herself is a fan of teleseryes. When my mom and dad separated when I was in fourth grade, my uncle took care of me. And because he is a solid Kapamilya himself, he would always tell me even if I had no intention of arguing whatsoever that ABS-CBN is always the better station, and that the programs of GMA7 are mediocre. He would put ABS-CBN in the pedestal and assure to me that there’s no way in this whole wide world that GMA7 will be number one. Looking back, I saw myself growing up in an average Filipino family in the province whose mindset was heavily influenced by the dictates of media.

It was around 2007 when I was first introduced to the wonders of the internet. When I learned how to use Google, one of the first things that I looked up were TV ratings. I didn’t know what I exactly typed at the search bar, but nonetheless, I found my way to a ratings data of AGB Nielsen. I just wanted to know how huge the lead of ABS-CBN was, because as my uncle claimed, there’s no way ABS-CBN cannot be number one. But to my surprise, I learned that GMA7 programs—namely Marimar, Zaido and even that very jologs Whammy Push Your Luck—were easily crushing Kapamilya programs like Lastikman, Kokey and Prinsesa ng Banyera (damn, how can you beat a teleserye starring a goddess like Kristine Hermosa?!). I was stunned; in fact, I was one of the hardcore Kapamilyas who doubted the credibility of the survey firm at the time it was publicly accused of ratings manipulation.

To make the long story short, since the day I clicked that very first entertainment blog that led me to the local TV ratings page, I never lost track of what was happening in entertainment media, specifically in the ratings game and network war. I virtually witnessed when the news came out that ABS-CBN was leaving AGB Nielsen, and when a few months after, another survey firm in the name of TNS (which will later be renamed Kantar Media) would release TV ratings. I was a dedicated observer to many things, such as disappointing flops—from the overly publicized Sarah Geronimo-starrer 1Dol being axed after barely a month of airing to the series of replacements on GMA7’s Sunday noontime block because shows pitted against ASAP wouldn’t stand a chance. Moreover,  I was amazed by the surprise hits—from the Aljur-Kris tandem kicking ass in the national ratings race (an ABS-CBN territory) via Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin? to the morning talent program Showtime giving the longest running morning talk show Sis a run for its money and finally making history in the course of daytime programming. I can enumerate a lot more but I’m afraid I will sacrifice the quality of this specific paragraph because it became too long. But the point is, I might not have remembered the exact numbers, but I’ve been very much familiar with the trend that I consider myself a superfan of ratings and figures. Indeed, I’m writing this with a distinct sense of euphoria, because I’ve been fascinated by these numbers and I don’t exactly know why.

I loved that BC 100 class with Ms. Pinky because it was the first time that I openly shared my fascination with TV ratings. I know it sounds absurd, but before getting her subject, I never enthusiastically discussed anything showbiz-related to anyone, because I was afraid to be ridiculed. Although I never asked, my uncle’s homosexuality is an open secret in the family. So when he started taking major parenting responsibility of me while my mom is working abroad and my dad is taking AWOL, I would often be subtly reminded by my relatives (particularly my grandfather) to be careful so I wouldn’t be mahahawaan (lit. infected) by my tito. It’s the reason why I didn’t acknowledge my strong familiarity with the lighter side of media, because aside from its triviality, I was a little afraid to be associated with my Tito’s interest in Philippine TV and then be linked with homosexuality.

I just look back and think how stupid that was, to be scared of being associated with people who were not different at all. And that’s why I couldn’t be much happier to be in my current school, because the people I’m surrounded with are people who advocate for equality and proper representation. Furthermore, I couldn’t be much happier to be in my course, precisely because my coursemates also have their fair share of knowledge towards matters that interest me too.

It’s funny and amazing how you think you already know your strengths, but then it takes other people to point it out to you. Tomorow, I’ll start publishing articles about my insights towards television shows in relation with their ratings. I know it’s not as important as current affairs and national issues, but I won’t try to pretend to know so much about things that I have little idea about. Who knows, I might land a decent job someday just because I can interpret TV viewership. That’s like, the best job in the world, looking at numbers whole day and feeling high at what you’ve been able to conclude with figures.

Group picture with Ms. Pinky Aseron at the end of the semester. Photo courtesy of my coursemate Almira. The jeje edit was entirely her idea.

Group picture with Ms. Pinky Aseron at the end of the semester. Photo courtesy of my coursemate and good friend Almira. The jeje edit of the image above was entirely her idea.


4 responses to “I’ve Always Been a Fan of Local TV Ratings

  1. I also loved Ms Pinky’s BC 100 class too, and I won’t be ashamed to say I was also one of the more active participants during the discussions. It also stimulated my interest in the broadcast media and, yes, ratings. In fact, my report in class was about how ratings are gathered and counted. I got to interview an employee of AGB Nielsen at the time when they were rolling out the national ratings scheme, and shortly before the manipulation controversy. I learned a lot from that research, and a lot of my convictions and ideas about ratings trends were honed during that BC 100 class. I presented ratings data to my class and the discussion that followed was intense.

    My ‘love story’ with the network war began in first year in spirited discussions with my dorm mates and block mates. Taking BC 100 and Comm 100 in second year bolstered that all the more.

    Glad to be reading you once again, Dwight, and I am excited to read your other stories! It’s also refreshing to read you in English. Do say Hi to Ma’am Pinky for me one of these days.


    • Actually, na-disappoint po ako noon kasi ang na-assign na topic sa report ng group namin sa BC 100 ay tungkol sa technical aspect ng radio and TV, which I found quite boring. Kaya mas naging active ako sa latter part ng semester noong ang mga dini-discuss na ay tungkol sa Philippine TV mismo. :)) Ngayon, sa course ng BC, meron na pong mga tracks. Dati, sure ako na kukunin ko ‘yung BroadJourn specialization. Pero dahil napagtanto ko ‘yung interest ko with how things work on paper (at sa fascination ko sa ratings lol), cino-consider ko mag-Management and Programming na track. May two semesters pa naman ako para mag-decide. I hope po we meet soon para mas makwento niyo sa ‘kin kung paano talaga nag-fu-function ang industry. :))

      Naabutan mo pa pala si Ma’am Pinky. I thought mga early 2000s ka grumaduate. Haha. And yeah, I think magiging active na ulit po ako sa blog. I recently found huge interest in writing about local TV shows. I’m also trying to learn more about feature writing. ‘Yung recent post ko about Be Careful, that was a little inspired by your writing technique. Haha. Na-a-amaze kasi ako ‘pag nababasa ko ‘yung articles niyo—you put less opinions and write purely on facts (with hyperlinks) but still, ang sharp ng angle na pinipili niyo sa pagsusulat and I can see your point of view. Na-fa-fascinate lang talaga ko. Hahaha. Thank you for reading Sir Anjo! :))

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I am really honored to know that you find a boost from my writing style, Dwight. Well, it was something I also wanted to see and found lacking in my online reads back in college. But I found well-written articles by the likes of the PCIJ, Newsbreak and the CMFR about the TV news media. They showed that you can still talk about pop culture but be objective and factual about it and not resort to sensationalism. Really good stories by great writers, a few of them I was fortunate to have had as instructors. It’s a matter too of what you read that influences your writing style. I suggest you browse them. They are old, but they provide a lot of perspective.
    PCIJ’s I-Magazine: http://pcij.org/imag/Media/media.html
    Newsbreak: http://archives.newsbreak-knowledge.ph/page/70/?archive-dropdown&s=television
    CMFR: http://www.cmfr-phil.org/?s=tv+ratings

    Sure, hope I get a chance to catch up with you. I’d love to talk and listen.



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