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GMA Network in 2020: Pandemic and ABS-CBN Shutdown Catapult the Kapuso Network to the Top

ABS-CBN’s shutdown and the pandemic are major players that sent GMA Network to the top of the free tv competition

The saying someone’s misfortune is someone else’s gain can not be any truer with what happened to the country’s two biggest television networks this year. As ABS-CBN faced its most challenging year yet, GMA Network had one of its most profitable years in decades.

ABS-CBN’s sudden shutdown meant the shift of the advertiser’s attention to the remaining players and GMA Network had the biggest space to accommodate the largest chunk.

True enough, while its biggest rival plunged to its worst-performing fiscal year yet, the Kapuso Network’s revenues skyrocketed to its highest level in years.

GMA Network Becomes No.1 and Profits Soar

While the Kapuso Network has repeatedly claimed leadership in nationwide ratings amidst ABS-CBN’s clear lead in recent years, it wasn’t only until ABS-CBN’s departure from free tv competition, that its claim became completely unquestionable. It is important to note that GMA Network’s becoming the no.1 network in the country is largely by default and not by defeating its biggest contender in TV ratings.

As ABS-CBN’s departure left a humongous void in advertising space, advertisers set their sights on other venues and more contemporary platforms, particularly online streaming. GMA Network, however, being one of the remaining two nationwide broadcasters in the country, was expected to receive the biggest lump of advertising spending on free television. As a result, GMA’s profits soared for the first nine months of 2020, 79% higher compared to the same period in the preceding year.

The local adaptation of the hit Korean series, Descendants of the Sun, was among Kapuso programs to suspend tapings for new episodes

Suspension of Production

As government-enforced protocols disabled production units from producing more content, GMA Network was among the first television networks to implement the suspension of tapings for its shows. In the absence of new episodes, the network tapped industry-wide practice of putting old shows as a temporary replacement for regular programs that could no longer air fresh episodes. Among these shows include some of the network’s biggest programs—Eat Bulaga, Wowowin, All-Out Sundays, and Telebabad programs Descendants of the Sun and Anak ni Waray vs Anak ni Biday.

Replays and Reruns Dominated GMA Network’s Programming

To fill up the void left by the lack of fresh episodes, GMA Network temporarily replaced regular programmings with its past hit shows. Both Telebabad and Dramara sa Hapon slots are heavily occupied by soap operas, that the best replacements the network could found are its recent top raters. Encantadia, Kambal Karibal, Ika-6 na Utos, My Husband’s Lover, Onanay, and Alyas Robin Hood were among the many shows that took the places of regular shows such as Descendants of the Sun and Prima Donnas.


As it became more difficult to produce live episodes, GMA Network carried out reorganization in its news department, with some of its news channels, GMA NewsTV’s programs, filling up vacant slots on the main channel, GMA-7. Simulcasts of DZBB programs in the mornings were also made available on GMA News TV and GMA-7, as Unang Hirit took a temporary pause. Programs from GMA’s regional stations were also tapped to fill up GMANewsTV’s line-up.


Compared to its two nearest rivals, ABS-CBN and TV5, the Kapuso Network took its time to premiere new shows in 2020, with most of their new shows debuting before the government enforced lockdown measures across the country.

GMA’s bid to topple long-time industry leader, ASAP Natin To, in the musical-variety scene, continues with the premiere of All-Out Sundays, on January 5.  Drama series Anak ni Biday vs Anak ni Waray, Love of My Life, Descendants of the Sun, and Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit, all premiered in the first quarter of the year.

On September 28, after months of having almost-only-rerun line ups, GMA Telebabad’s debuted the drama anthology, I Can See You, featuring four unique stories that feature some of the network’s biggest stars. Running for 5-episode each are 4 mini-series offered under the drama-anthology: Love in the Balcony, starring Alden Richards and Jasmine Curtis-Smith; The Promise, starring Paolo Contis, Andrea Torres, Yasmien Kurdi, and Benjamin Alves; Highrise Lovers, starring Tom Rodriguez, Lovi Poe, and Winwyn Marquez, and lastly; Truly. Madly. Deeply, starring Jennylyn Mercado, Dennis Trillo, and Rhian Ramos.

The Philippine adaptation of the Korean hit, Descendants of the Sun, which stars Dingdong Dantes and Jennylyn Mercado, is the first Telebabad program to resume its regular broadcast in November.

‘One of the Baes’ starring Rita Daniela and Ken Chan ended its run on Telebabad on January 31


Fewer original Kapuso programs met definite endings in 2020 than their Kapamilya contemporaries. Among these programs include TV series Beautiful Justice, which starred  Yasmien Kurdi, Gabbi Garcia, and Bea Binene; One of the Baes, which starred Rita Daniela and Ken Chan; the Alden Richards-starrer, The Gift; and Madrasta, starring Arra San Agustin, Juancho Trivino, and Thea Tolentino. These programs aired their final episodes on January 24, January 31, February 7, and February 21, respectively.



The year marks incredible milestones for the network as some of its long-running programs celebrated anniversaries within the year. Saksi, its flagship late-night newscast, celebrated its 25th year on October 2, while its gag-show Bubble Gang, turned 25 on October 25.

Balitanghali, which is among the few surviving programs which debuted on the launch of QTV-11 (that later on became GMA News TV), marked its 15th year on-air, on November 11.

On November 20, following the dissolution of ABS-CBN Sports, NCAA sealed a deal with GMA Network to be its coverage partner for the next 5 seasons (96-101) of the collegiate annual sports. The year also marked the network’s further expansion of its digital terrestrial television services as it released its own digital television box and digital tv dongle in June and December, respectively.

GMA Network’s Future and ABS-CBN’s Big Comeback

While GMA Network ramps up to accommodate all the positive opportunities that ABS-CBN’s departure from the competition has brought, how long its leadership will last remains unclear, as ABS-CBN return to its former glory seems to get closer to reality as several forces in the House of Congress—the same House that killed the network’s franchise on July 10—are aggressively putting another application into motion.

This may mean that ABS-CBN will reclaim its previous frequencies, and thus will once again challenge GMA Network in its previous capacity. It is for GMA Network to act fast and implement appropriate measures while its former biggest rival is slowly recuperating for yet another free television showdown.


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