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ABS-CBN branches out to theme park dev't

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) Updated August 28, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Lopez-led multimedia conglomerate ABS-CBN Corp. is branching out into theme parks and resorts development, following the footsteps of global media giants Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Viacom which broke out of the cocoon of home entertainment.

The country’s largest media outfit has incorporated ABS-CBN Theme Parks & Resort Holdings Inc. with an initial authorized capital of P270 million to serve as the group’s vehicle for its foray into the amusement park business.

The Lopezes were earlier reported among those that have signified interest to partner with Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada, one of the four investor groups granted a license to operate a casino in Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp.’s Entertainment City.

Okada and the group of taipan John Gokongwei are still in talks for a possible partnership in the Japanese pachinko tycoon’s planned $2 billion integrated resort along Manila Bay.

Sources said ABS-CBN is banking on the flourishing market for family amusement rides and live shows as Asia’s large populations are now moving up into the bottom rungs of the middle classes, triggering a boom in theme park construction. With more disposable income and free time, the continent’s growing middle class tend to spend some of it on thrill rides.

In an industry challenged by piracy and a deteriorating DVD business, amusement parks have emerged as a bright spot. Theme parks have become one of the few steady growth drivers for global media and entertainment conglomerates.

Analysts said real estate has become indispensable to an entertainment company’s portfolio, its growth and promotional strategies. The recent years have seen many global media firms venturing into theme park and resorts development to diversify their revenue stream.

ABS-CBN produces world-class entertainment, news and information programs through its flagship station in Mega Manila, ABS-CBN Channel 2, and its free-to-air UHF channel Studio 23. Backed by a regional network of 25 originating stations, eight affiliates, and a collection of strategically-located relay stations across the archipelago, ABS-CBN’s nationwide reach remains unmatched to date.

The group also operates the country’s leading radio network led by DZMM Radyo Patrol 630 and Tambayan 101.9 in the FM band.

ABS-CBN owns SkyCable, the country’s largest cable television service provider with around 500,000 subscribers in Metro Manila and key urban areas nationwide.

Outside of the Philippines, ABS-CBN reaches an estimated two million Filipinos out of the more than eight million Filipinos overseas, through ABS Global’s The Filipino Channel (TFC).

TFC is available in the US, Canada, the whole of Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Japan, and a host of other Asia-Pacific countries via cable TV, direct-to-home satellite, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), and the internet through TFC Now.

ABS-CBN’s in-house produced programs also reach foreign audiences through the distribution of ABS-CBN content to countries in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.

Star Cinema, ABS-CBN’s movie production unit, accounts for a 75 percent share of the local film market based on gross box office receipts, consistently producing one blockbuster hit after another. 

ABS-CBN also leads the local music production and distribution outfit in the country through Star Records.

The media giant completes its tri-media offering with 14 glossy magazine titles, addressing the needs of the Philippine upscale market with features on fashion and lifestyle, gossip and entertainment, culinary arts, interior design, sports, and male-specific interests.

Blazing the trail in new media technology, ABS-CBN Interactive pioneered traditional media and SMS tie-ups in the country with the launch of TV text promos and TV polls / voting systems.

The group’s online properties – entertainment and news sites, online games, and social networking through one of the leading social networks in world, Multiply, have a solid following.

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