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Felipe Gozon turns 80

"Gozon shepherded GMA Network to its unrivaled niche today thru masterful strategy, savvy programming, first-rate marketing, and judicious cost control."


This Sunday, Dec. 8, Felipe “Henry” Gozon tenders a big party to mark his 80th birthday.

I asked Henry how it feels to be 80. His reply by text: “Fine. Good. I believe that one is as old or as young as he feels.”

I asked him what he plans at 80. His reply: “To pursue the digitization project of GMA successfully.”

Digitization is the process of converting information (usually analog like an image, sound, document or signal) into digital format so you can project or feed it to infinitely more audiences and more forms of media. The digitized data becomes binary numbers or into O (zero) and 1 (one) which facilitate computer processing and other operations.

Yale-educated lawyer Henry Gozon is Asia’s best broadcast CEO. With little resources but plenty of guts, talent, and visioning, he changed the game of Philippine television and is now bringing it to the Digital Age. Starting from 1975, when the trio of Gilberto Duavit, Menardo Jimenez and his family took over from Bob Stewart, Gozon has made the then smallish Channel 7 No. 1.

Change actually came in a big way in 2000 when Gozon became CEO. Almost in jiffy, by the magic of Gozon’s management wand, GMA became 

No. 1 in audience share, in tv ratings, in credibility, in profitability, in market value, in prestige, and in reputation.

GMA’s transformation, in turn, brought in immense wealth to the three families which control the network—those of the late Gilberto Duavit, Menardo Jimenez, and Gozon himself. From 2000 to 2018, cumulative revenues have swelled to over P194.2 billion and cumulative profits to more than P34.4 billion.

Gozon shepherded GMA Network to its unrivaled niche today thru masterful strategy, savvy programming, first-rate marketing, and judicious cost control. Lately, the station is going back to filmmaking which has provided remarkable windfall for rival ABS-CBN.

Today, according to MarketWatch, which monitors listed stocks, GMA Network is valued in the stock market at P17.47 billion, P3.29 billion or 23 percent higher than ABS-CBN’s P14.18 billion. The reason is that

as a stock, GMA sells at 10.1 times its earnings, while ABS-CBN sells for only 5.04 times its income.

GMA is also a more efficient company. It generates P5.56 million revenues per employee; ABS-CBN just P5 million, 11 percent less.

Please note that in terms of assets, ABS-CBN is almost five times bigger—P85.65 billion vs. P17.186 billion, and per nine-months of 2019, produces 2.62 times more revenues than GMA—P32 billion vs P12.2 billion. And yet, ABS-CBN and GMA have the almost the same amount of nine-month profit—P2.2 billion vs. P2.1 billion.

Half of the business of ABS-CBN is not tv—it is merchandise (like t-shirts), tv plus, and films (its scriptwriters are the best in the land).

GMA gives more money to its stockholders. GMA shares yield 8.59 percent; ABS-CBN 3.16. Not surprisingly, in the past 12 months, in a bearish market, GMA share price is down only 1.5 percent; that of ABS-CBN is down 12.02 percent or has fallen eight times deeper.

ABS-CBN’s near-term outlook seems dim. President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to block the renewal of the company’s franchise which ends end-March 2020. This opens an added advantage to GMA which could possibly capture ad drifters from ABS-CBN.

Henry Gozon’s digitalization plans have been under wraps for over a year now. It involves a tie-up with the Philippines’ largest telco—PLDT and its Smart wireless subsidiary.

The PLDT-Smart and GMA Network content partnership will bring the wonders of television to millions more, especially those with cellphones. The PLDT ecosystem is awesome. It is larger and probably better, than any other telco in the country—2.7-million voice or landline subscribers, 2.1-million broadband subscribers, and 71.5-million wireless.

On the other hand, GMA viewership is nothing to sneeze at. Per October 2019 ratings, the station had an average of 32.3 total day people audience share in Urban Luzon, vs. ABS-CBN's 31.1 percent. Urban Luzon accounts for 72 of all urban TV viewers in the country.

The Kapuso Network continued to beat competition in the afternoon block with 33-percent people audience share compared with ABS-CBN’s 31.6. GMA also won in the evening block with 34.9 percent versus ABS-CBN's 32.9 percent.

Television and telephony have become a question of content. Content for tv means live and taped shows, films, and similar programs. The pipes are PLDT’s network—landline phones, broadband service, the more than 70-million mobile subscribers.

Hollywood studios used to dictate filmmaking and movie viewership. Not anymore. Netflix has taken over the business of the movie moguls and the film studios. Very soon, Netflix will produce more films and more revenues than any of the major Hollywood studios like Warner Bros.,

Disney, and NBCUniversal. Netflix has about 150-million subscribers worldwide. The tv streaming business is now valued at $150 billion.

GMA is to launch next year MyGMA Go, its mobile Digital Terrestrial Television service that will revolutionize content consumption habits by combining digital TV viewing and the fun elements of mobile interactivity.

GMA will uncork an affordable and compact end-user device that can act as a digital TV receiver when connected to an Android smartphone.

Complementary to this device is a mobile application that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store where users can watch GMA’s exclusive channels that will include an Asian telenovela channel, Korean music and variety channel, and a concert channel, and other free-to-air channels without a need for an active Internet connection.

Happy birthday, my friend Don Henry.

[email protected]

Topics: Tony Lopez , Felipe “Henry” Gozon , GMA Network , ABS-CBN
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