MANILA, Philippines—The PBA continues to thrive heading into its 45th season, even with the decline in venue attendance last year.
This, according to commissioner Willie Marcial and cChairman Ricky Vargas, both of whom touted the growth of the league in other areas.
In a press conference at the Conrad Hotel on Tuesday, Marcial revealed that the league's attendance declined by 4% last season, one of the longest in recent memory. The 2019 PBA Philippine Cup opened in January 13, and the Governors' Cup ended over a year later, on January 17, 2020.
"Kausap namin ang fans," Marcial said, regarding the lower attendance in venues. "Sabi nila, mataas ang presyo."
The league has taken steps to remedy this, offering discounts to certain sections at arenas. The other reason for the low turnout, however, is too much for the league to overcome.
"Ang problema ko traffic," Marcial said. "Di ko maso-solve. Hindi ko magagawan ng paraan."
Yet while physical fan attendance declined, the league's digital imprint soared. The PBA estimated an increase of 20% to 25% on social media, said Marcial, and millions of views on the live-streaming of PBA games on YouTube. Game 2 of the Meralco-Ginebra finals in the PBA Governors' Cup drew a whopping 3.5 million views, according to Marcial.
Several other games reached more than two million views as well.
"Papunta na rin kami doon sa digital. Lahat sila, sa mobile, sa laptop. Papunta na doon lahat ng tao," Marcial said.
With this in mind, the PBA is now in talks with YouTube and Facebook on how to monetize their growing reach.
"Kinakausap na ako ng YouTube at Facebook. Kina-klaro lang namin," Marcial reported.
Vargas sees this as one proof of the PBA's continued growth, even with their attendance woes.
"The PBA is healthy," said Vargas, who is confident that the league can increase its revenue in 2020 with the monetization of its Facebook and YouTube reach.
"Ang kasabihan nga namin, sa PBA, lahat tayo bida," he added. "We look at 2020 as a turnaround. It may not be in the gates, but it will probably be in other areas."
"So we are growing. The PBA is growing. We are the only league that makes sense."
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).