ESPN Star Sports predicts boom in Philippine cable market

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MANILA -- ESPN Star Sports forecasts a 50% growth in the number of homes hooked to cable in the Philippines in the next two years, according to ESPN Star Sports Senior VP Simon Yu. At present, there are 400,000 to 500,000 households with access to cable TV in the Philippines. More than six millions homes have TV sets nationwide.

The country is ESPN's largest market in Southeast Asia. Yu hopes ESPN can reach more countries in the region. He noted that American sports have obtained a huge following in Asia, prompting the cable station to introduce more American sporting events.

America's National Basketball Association remains the highest-rated foreign sports program in the Philippines, followed by U.S. college basketball, major league baseball, and American football. According to Yu, Filipinos didn't exactly like watching soccer, "but now we see ratings for soccer programs shooting up."

ESPN and Star Sports formed a joint venture in November last year to produce a mammoth network that covers sports events in Asia, the Americas and Europe.

The partnership also gave the newly merged network a wider reach in Asia, which now counts more than 83 million homes hooked to the Star Sports network and 24 million to ESPN. Its biggest market is mainland China with more than 36 million homes hooked to Star Sports and nine million to ESPN.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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