16 September 2015

Aldub v Pastillas Girl in the Battle for Network Ratings

The two giant networks use the stories of Yaya Dub (left) and the Pastillas Girl for ratings.

Before anything else, I will be upfront and say that I am a Showtimer rather than an Eat Bulagâ-er, a condition forced upon me because for the longest time my GMA-7 cable feed was unwatchable. It works fine now; but I am also a creature of habit and will not suddenly watch Eat Bulagâ just because it does.

Besides, I am no stranger to Eat Bulagâ, which has been around since Kublai Khan prowled the steppes. I used to watch it when I was in college and only stopped watching when I went to work and had no access to television during lunchtime. Besides, I had also gotten tired of it.

Although I now prefer Showtime, I am aware that Eat Bulagâ has a larger fan base probably because it has been around longer and its fans cut across multiple age and economic groups. The two shows dominate the noontime slot; and while Eat Bulagâ from the occasional ratings I had seen seemed to have more weeks on top, the lead in viewership was never by a lot in terms of percentage.

Showtime’s fan base seemed to be a younger set with an affinity for techie stuff and social media. Hence, it was not uncommon for multiple Showtime hashtags to dominate worldwide and Philippine trends on Twitter during one show alone. This used to happen on a daily basis.

In contrast, Eat Bulagâ seldom if at all used to trend on Twitter. This suddenly changed a few weeks ago when the hashtag #Aldub and its various permutations began to appear at the top of worldwide and Philippine trends.

Some of the guys I play football with finally explained what Aldub was to me; and I was curious enough to give it a try one day. Apparently, Aldub is an evolving story; and because I was seeing it for the first time in midstream, I could not relate and, therefore, could not see what the fuss was all about.

So I channel-hopped right back to Showtime which, to be honest, was starting to sound laborious. Many people apparently think so, too; and Eat Bulagâ’s ratings were beginning to look like they would blow Showtime off the chart.

Showtime started to trend again; but
still nowhere near Aldub's.
At one point, Eat Bulagâ had an audience share of more than 31%, outstanding for any time slot. In contrast, Showtime’s share was reduced to a single digit.

I went to see my sister last Tuesday, and her household is solid Kapusô and, therefore, also tuned in to Eat Bulagâ the entire time that I was there. At the very least, I was able to get a running commentary on the Aldub story to make something out of it.

From my sister, I learned that the Aldub phenomenon was accidental. According to her, producers of Eat Bulagâ had contacted Maine Mendoza, a.k.a. Yaya Dub, because of her viral Dubsmash videos.

She was brought on board when they learned that she was interested in being an actress. The Aldub love team was introduced into the show when the staff discovered that she had a real life crush on Alden Richards.

For one reason or another, the pairing captured the public’s imagination, obviously to the point where even Showtime regulars were being wooed away from ABS-CBN at noontime. I also rather suspect that the timing of the Aldub coincided with Showtime having wound up its successful Funny One segment, the conclusion of which left Showtime with a vacuum.

The success of segments like Aldub is cyclical, and in time, the public will get tired of it. Showtime can either attempt to ride out its success – unless the decline in income renders Showtime unviable – or introduce something that can win back audience share.

How the show has responded has been nothing short of disappointing. The introduction of its own lip-sync segment, if anything, risks drawing the label of copycat.

The Funny Time segment, which uses the same comedians who competed in the Funny One competition, has its merits. However, punchlines are always hit or miss; and because the segment runs daily, comedic material is always bound to run out. I do not even watch this segment anymore because the misses are beginning to outnumber the hits.

Meanwhile, Vice Ganda as Madam Bertud introduced to the public the Pastillas Girl, a YouTube personality who turned to making videos as a way of letting off steam after breaking up with a boyfriend.

The Madam Bertud segment ostensibly picks guests from the public; so for a YouTube personality to come was immediately suspicious. That she returned the next day asking Madam Bertud if she was prepared to move on, and that the latter turned to Twitter to call for suitors finally convinced me that this was all scripted, whatever Vice Ganda has to say to the contrary.

If Vice was profuse in his thanks to the public yesterday, this was probably because Showtime started to trend again on Twitter albeit still nowhere near the Aldub phenomenon. In short, there were signs that Showtime was starting to win back viewership.

If my sister had not told me how the Aldub story evolved, I probably would not have seen the similarity between it and the evolving Pastillas Girl story and her search for the Pastillas Guy. To be fair, the Pastillas Girl is fun; and I still do not like the Aldub story.

What disappoints me is that the Showtime staff could not have been more original in the show’s attempt to rally back from being routed by Eat Bulagâ. In manufacturing, there is nothing wrong with copying, particularly if one can improve on the original product.

This is entertainment, however; and the very nature of the industry is premised on creativity. Repackaging another show’s formula, to my mind, is not creativity at all.

Of course, it can all be that ratings won back because of the Pastillas Girl is merely a way of riding out the storm until the public gets tired of Aldub and Showtime can introduce a winning new segment.

Who is to say, however, that Eat Bulagâ will not have another winner to replace Aldub with? This is why Showtime’s current lack of creativity concerns me. The show cannot rely on audience loyalty alone.

Showtime at the moment feels bland. Its blandness will not make me watch Eat Bulagâ which I grew tired of a long time ago. What it will do is make me stop watching Showtime.




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