Sky Cable Corporation in 1994, Carlo Katigbak was assigned to run the numbers for a cable company in Cebu that was being eyed for purchase. Fresh from consecutive yearlong stints with two investment banks, Katigbak concluded that the acquisition would be viable and value adding to SKY.Upon joining
ABS-CBN Corporation chairman Eugenio Lopez III (EL3), at that time president of ABS-CBN and director of SKY, challenged him, “If you believe in those numbers, you should make them happen.” In short order, SKY bought the company, the number-crunching finance man Katigbak transformed overnight into an operations manager, moved to Cebu, started up the cable service system and worked to “make the numbers.”
SKY’s Cebu system became cash positive in its first year of operation and is the largest and most profitable SKY operation outside Metro Manila.
Fast forward to 2013, Katigbak, now president of SKY, is also tasked to navigate ABS-CBN’s strategic move into mobile telephony through ABS-CBN Convergence Inc. (ABS-C). The management engineering graduate of Ateneo de Manila University applies the same discipline and attention that he applied to his Cebu experience to his current multiple assignments, which includes ABS-CBN’s digital television project.
“Your whole working experience leads up to the next. Every experience is a learning experience: the good, the bad; the successes, the failures. They all add up to what you know and how you do things today,” he says.
Katigbak relishes the company of his coworkers as “a group of highly motivated and driven people, passionate about what they do,” as well as the grand vision EL3 has for ABSCBN, SKY and ABS-C.
“His (EL3’s) ambitions are always grand. They are not your usual annual growth targets. He always dreams big. His vision is what makes the work exciting, interesting, challenging. It is what motivates you to stretch beyond your limits and achieve something different, something that hasn’t been done before.”
EL3’s vision for ABS-C is founded on the belief that wireless internet will become the most important platform for people to access content. “The medium (mobile device) lends itself to ondemand content consumption, and experience sharing through social networks. Our goal is to make sure every Filipino will have a new way of consuming and sharing whatever content they want, anywhere and anytime.”
Daring and pioneering
ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer (CEO) Charo Santos-Concio affirms the increasing primacy of the mobile platform. “I think most kapamilya are probably consuming more content on their phones and tablet than I am. I have only fairly recently discovered the mobile experience apart from email, SMS and social networks. We just finished our first ABS-CBN Digital Summit and I confessed to not being a digital native but have become a fast convert of this new world. I am amazed at what is out there and excited about our future.”
Santos-Concio proudly lists a number of ABS-CBN applications she regularly uses on her smartphone and tablet: “ABS-CBN News has a very strong app that pushes out content from our news team and is valuable for breaking news. The Project NOAH app that our news team developed with PAGASA is valuable for weather information, typhoon and rain updates. MYX has a great app for music charts while our (ABS-CBN) Publishing group has delivered a lot of our magazines in digital form. Since I regularly monitor our channels even while on the road, iWantv.com.ph provides me the ability to watch our channels live anywhere I am or to catch up on episodes I may have missed.”
As mobile devices become cheaper and prepaid services continue to grow, there is ample room in the market for a third mobile service provider. Aside from the excellent news and entertainment programs of ABS-CBN, ABS-C will bank on its service orientation to differentiate itself from other mobile service providers.
The ABS-CBN CEO acknowledges, “The mobile space is extremely competitive and has come down to price, quality and coverage. What we bring to the mix is more than just a strong brand and strong content. We believe that the strength of the offer lies in our deep understanding of our audience across all our platforms as well as a deep relationship built on trust. These facets have taken decades to build and will spell the difference in our approach. While we are a big company, we have remained flexible and nimble…we make adjustments to our shows daily or weekly, we are willing to make changes as needed and we have an amazing team of people that share a common vision—to be of service to the Filipino.”
Instead of ambitious, she prefers to call the company’s latest project “daring and pioneering.” She has put ABSCBN’s resources solidly in support of the digital, mobile push—with great expectations on the team.
“The convergence team is charged with not only delivering on its business targets but (more importantly) experimenting with a brand-new user experience that uses existing content from all our platforms, creating new content and experiences specific to the mobile space and with understanding a new generation of content consumers that are defining what they want. Given how fast the world is moving, I believe we will see the fruits of our efforts very soon,” Santos-Concio says.
Katigbak calls out to LopezLink readers: “The Lopez companies have always come together as a group every time we’ve needed to do so. As we launch our t e l e c o m s business, we hope we can count on your support as well.” (Story/photo by Carla Paras-Sison)