The PBA Board of Governors have issued some statements a couple of weeks ago, indicating their desire to return back to the 3-conference per season format (from the current 2-conference per season format) by the next season or so.
This got me to thinking: Despite all the fan feedback, despite all the success of the current 2 conference format, why would the PBA bigwigs insist on going back to a 3 conference format? What’s the driving reason behind it?
Initially, I thought that GREED was the main driving reason behind it, in terms of giving more teams more exposure since there are more championships to win. But then I realize, that another possible motivation for the PBA to go into a 3 conference format, is behind 2 words: LIGA PILIPINAS.
Liga Pilipinas raises the spectre of the MBA being resurected again in another form. True, the MBA was a business failure, but it definitely was NOT a failure in terms of popularity. The fact that people still talk & recall the league generally w/ fondness even though it closed down 6 long years ago I feel is a testament to its popularity.
Worst, it will now be headed by the same Commissioner who steered the PBA to new heights of popularity.
Of course, some will say that it is a long shot for Liga Pilipinas to topple the PBA in terms of popularity, but I feel the PBA does not want to take chances, & is looking to maintain their lead any way they can.
A 2 conference format will mean that there will be a period wherein Liga Pilipinas games will be played, w/ no PBA games to take away the attention of the basketball fans. A 3 conference format, however, will ensure that there will be as little opening for Liga Pilipinas as possible without PBA competition.
The problem, though, is that it will also mean the local basketball scene at one time will end up w/ an oversaturation of basketball. There will be period wherein the PBA, Liga Pilipinas, & the collegiate tournaments (UAAP & NCAA) will be playing AT THE SAME TIME.
When that happens, then basketball fans will be forced to choose which games to watch, because they certainly couldn’t watch it all. If that happens, I feel that the PBA will end up on the losing end.
The collegiate tournaments will not likely lose its fans. Its TV ratings is probably as high, or maybe even higher than that of the PBA. The games are more intense, & each school literally has tens of thousands of followers in its student & alumni populations.
Liga Pilipinas, since it is a community based league, will have communities behind it, ESPECIALLY in the provinces, where the people can watch more games LIVE.
The PBA, on the other hand, has the best players in the country as its attraction. There are also diehard PBA fans out there to count on, but generally I feel that the league’s connection to the fans isn’t really that solid. Its not easy to identify w/ corporations, so the players will be its main source of attraction. To me, that is a bit of a shallow connection, when you end up identifying w/ individuals than teams.
Anyway, we’ll see if that theory is indeed, true, if the PBA does go ahead & go back to a 3-conference per season format.