GMA 7 launches new digital movie channel

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Joey Abacan

GMA Network launched a new digital channel, which aims to provide Filipino viewers a new content platform, especially now that many people are staying at home due to the pandemic.

Called I Heart Movies, the channel will offer a diverse roster of films of different genres and origins for free.

“We want this to be a one-stop shop for films. There will be romance, drama, horror, action, comedy. Apart from local movies, there will be international titles. We have a lot of Asian content. Some will be dubbed in Filipino, too. We want to strike that good balance,” GMA first vice president for program management Joey Abacan said in a recent virtual conference.

I Heart Movies can be accessed on GMA Affordabox’s Channel 5 and will soon be available on other digital boxes.

It currently has four programming blocks: Timeless Telesine, which features made-for-television films; Takilya Throwback, for local classics from the 1970s to the early 2000s; Block Screening, for foreign movies; and Pinoy Movie Date, for newer Filipino titles.

As for content acquisition, Abacan said his team are in constant talks with various producers and media companies, both local and international.

“We have materials from Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures and even Hallmark. For our local films, we have GMA Films, Regal Entertainment and Viva Films in the mix,” he said. “Were acquiring Asian content—Korean, Thai—which I have also been doing for our The Heart of Asia programming block.”

I Heart Movies

Asked by the Inquirer if they’re willing to carry independent films, whose producers usually struggle to find platforms outside festivals, Abacan said they actually already have a couple of titles in store, including Real Florido’s “1st Ko Sir 3rd” and Jerrold Tarog’s “Sana Dati.”

Showcasing indies

“We do have them in our catalog and we’re always on the lookout for materials from different filmmakers and content providers,” Abacan said. “Some of these we actually coproduced. And we have been doing this for years. It’s [possible to] have a portion to showcase these indies.”Abacan noted that the viewing audience is always a “moving target.” And so they always have to be on their feet, when it comes to scouting and curating content. “The audience wants variety and their tastes are always changing,” he pointed out. “So, I always check what’s going on around the world. I do market checks. I try to listen to the audience so I can give them personalized programming. It’s crucial to have a good library, which is still growing.” While Abacan admitted that there are now several streaming platforms available, he emphasized that I Heart Movies is free, and therefore more accessible.

“The pandemic has given birth to an abundance of content and through the advent of OTT platform services, viewers are now spoiled for choice… But by offering a more diverse lineup of movies, we hope to provide a free TV alternative for everyone,” he said. INQ


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