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Filipinos are Watching Less TV Due to ABS-CBN Shutdown, Says Study

Going digital.
by Arianne Merez
Jun 23, 2021
Photo/s: Shutterstock

TV viewing in the Philippines dropped in lockdown year 2020, defying the global trend of increased television use as the country saw the shutdown of its biggest media network ABS-CBN.

TV usage slid to 61%, down by five percentage points, to become the third top source of news in the country, behind online (87%) and social media (72%) according to The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2021. A total of 2,029 Filipinos were polled for the online survey conducted between January and February 2021 by British market research firm YouGov.

“The decline in TV viewing may have been partly influenced by the closure of ABS-CBN’s free-to-air stations after the House of Representatives refused to renew its franchise to operate,” it said.

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ABS-CBN went off the air in May 2020 following the expiry of its franchise. The House of Representatives in July of the same year refused to grant the network a new one, prompting a more aggressive digital push.


As expected, rival network GMA saw a 79% jump in profits from the previous year for the same period, while other media firms reported reduced earnings.

"Besides benefiting from the airtime advertising resulting from ABS-CBN’s closure, GMA’s online and digital ad sales grew 36%. It has launched a DTT receiver, GMA Affordabox, and mobile dongle, GMA Now," the report said.

The report also noted that "many big television networks have taken to rebranding or reformatting programs in a bid to engage consumers."

Going digital

More Filipinos have been getting their news from social media, which saw a rise of four percentage points to 72% in 2020, the study showed.

Facebook remains the top social media source of the latest updates at 73%, followed by YouTube at 53%, Facebook Messenger at 36%, Twitter at 19%, and Instagram at 12%. Video-sharing platform TikTok, which saw its popularity boom in 2020, is also becoming a destination for news among Filipinos at 6%, the report said. 

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"Dependence on smartphones to access online news, including on social media, has grown among Filipinos during what was one of the world’s longest lockdowns due to COVID-19. Not surprisingly, consumption of traditional media, particularly print, has gone down," it said.

Nearly half of Filipino internet users at 47% share news via social media, messaging, or email, while 17% pay for online news.

In terms of news trust, overall confidence in news among Filipino internet users increased by five percentage points, but declined in social media by two percentage points due to "concerns over misinformation on the internet."

You can view the full report here.

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