Can Daniel Padilla beat Coco Martin as ABS-CBN Primetime King?

IMAGE Noel Orsal

In La Luna Sangre and FPJ's Ang Probinsyano, Daniel Padilla (left) and Coco Martin (right) are capable of handling characters that can make audiences laugh one moment, cry the next, and finally be on edge in scenes packed with lots of action. The formula works, to go by the TV ratings of both.


Can Daniel Padilla steal the title "ABS-CBN Primetime King" from Coco Martin?

Slowly, this question has surfaced, and with reason: Comparative TV ratings in recent weeks of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, headlined by Coco Martin, and La Luna Sangre, headlined by Daniel Padilla, are showing a shift in the numbers.

The shift is nothing tectonic, but in the world of television, it might as well be.

FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano—now running a mind-boggling one year, nine months, and three weeks—has been the consistent top rater for ABS-CBN, and on February 2, 2016 actually registered numbers not seen around teleseryes in years.

On that day, the action-drama topped at 45.9 percent, to go by Kantar Media-TNS Nationwide Ratings.

This was actually tempered by figures coming from AGB-Nielsen Mega Manila Ratings, which gave the Coco-starrer a respectable, but not show-stopping, 26.6 percent for the same day.

But, with ABS-CBN subscribing only to Kantar, the 45.9 percent figure has held sway.

Kantar Media, which calls itself "a global media intelligence firm," explained in its March 2, 2017 report that it measures Philippine TV consumption through "an independent, representative sample [of] a panel of 3,500 households."

Following those numbers, Kantar's 45.9 percent ratings of February 2 translated thus: that day, out of 3,500 households, a stunning 1,606.5 households were glued to FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.

So impressive is this that no one was too surprised when, in last April's thanksgiving party for FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, no less than ABS-CBN Chief Operating Officer for TV Broadcast Cory Vidanes announced that the action-drama series would continue airing until January 2018.

Now comes, also from ABS-CBN, La Luna Sangre, a fantasy-action-drama that, beside FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, is a total newbie at five weeks old.

Which now makes these latest ratings all the more startling: Thus far, the five-week-old La Luna Sangre has tied with the 95-week-old FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano two times, and has outranked it at least eight times.

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The first four times La Luna Sangre took the lead happened right in its pilot week.

This is when the story of good vampires and wolves unfolds, with John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin as main carrying stars, playing the parents of Kathyrn Bernardo, then just a child, who is prophesied as the next hero of their clan of wolves and vampires.

The pilot week also marks the introduction of the show's main villain, played by Richard Gutierrez. There are action-packed, face-to-face encounters among the three stars—John Lloyd, Angel, and Richard; and, to viewers in the know, this is a virtual reunion for Richard and Angel, who had been paired in six movies, plus one prime-time series in their former home network, GMA-7. 

The next four times La Luna Sangre took the lead happened when Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo, the young stars around whom the story is written, finally make their appearance.

As to the two times the shows tied, the first happened when the characters of John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin die, and the second, when Daniel discovers a group of vampire hunters he is earnest to join, and Kathryn fails to transform into the hero of her clan of wolves and vampires.

These figures of La Luna Sangre's small triumphs over FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano come from AGB Nielsen Nationwide Urban Television Audience Measurement (NUTAM), which puts the margin of difference at .1 percent to .8 percent.

AGB Nielsen, which calls itself a "leading global information and measurement company," has a nationwide urban sample size of 2,000 homes and 1,200 homes in Mega Manila. (Manila Standard, January 8, 2016).

Among its subscribers are the GMA Network, CNN Philippines, TV5, Net 25, Ebiquity-Faulkner CBN Asia, and Antonio Tuviera's TAPE Inc.

Also subscribing to AGB Nielsen are these advertising and media agencies: Dentsu Aegis Network (Carat, Mediaforce Vizeum, Dentsu); GroupM (Mediacom, Mindshare, MEC and Maxus); Omnicom Media Group (OMD, PHD and M2M); Zenith Optimedia, and Starcom Mediavest. (PEP.ph, December 16, 2016)

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Putting out its own rankings, Kantar Media-TNS Nationwide Ratings says differently: Overall, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano maintains a slim lead over La Luna Sangre, with a margin of difference of .4 percent to 4.3 percent.

Who to believe? But, whether we go with Kantar or AGB Nielsen, the numbers are intriguing.

Have audiences had their fill of action and drama from the real world and become eager for a different story line and hero? Is a fantasy-action-drama the next big thing, once more? Can a program nearing two years on air have reached a saturation point? But can a show worth only five weeks of episodes really hold its own against a proven rater? 

Is the title "ABS-CBN Primetime King" shifting from Coco Martin to Daniel Padilla?

Or—is all this talk just a bit too rash, too soon?

COMPARING COCO AND DANIEL. Of course, any attempt at comparing the two Kapamilya shows needs some vetting. 

The most obvious point is longevity.

Coco's action-drama series premiered on September 28, 2015, giving it a stunning and now-rare television run of 95 weeks to date.

Daniel's fantasy-action-drama series was launched only last June 19, 2017, giving it a juvenile, if promising, television run of five weeks to date.

That is a difference of 90 weeks between them, which, in any other field, should put a stop to all comparisons.

Except for this: Television is an industry where a fractional dip or a decimal surge in ratings can send a network executive from extreme certainty to extreme self-doubt within the cruel space of hours, which means that, in actuality, only the latest ratings count. 

In the culture of television, every show is only as good as its last episode.

With ratings strong, thank yous and rewards come in plenty. But, the thank yous are finite and the rewards have a specific function. They are there to engender even stronger ratings the next time out. When the numbers slip, the rewards slip away, too, while the thank yous are long gone.

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TV business is volatile, memories are short, and every show is expendable.

Thus, titles shifting from one star to another is very much part of the culture. 

COCO MARTIN AS ACTION STAR. As comparisons go, there is more to vet.

In FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, the 35-year-old Coco is the only star, and no one watching the story's twists and turns is left in any doubt of this.

Certainly, the multi-awarded actor has had a succession of three female co-stars in the series, beginning with Maja Salvador, followed by Bela Padilla, and, presently, Yassi Pressman.

But, as with nearly all stories rooted in action—brawls, shoot outs, explosions—the action star is the only real star.

And Coco, from all indications, is working to become the next FPJ.

It is not just because Ang Probinsyano is a huge FPJ brand, and that FPJ's widow, the much-respected Susan Roces, is in its TV version, indicating that Coco has courted her blessings and that she has given them.

Or not even just because Coco famously visited the tomb of the man the country still calls its "Action King"—a title that, by the way, has not passed on to anyone to this day.

It is more Coco's visible, big career moves.

His upcoming project is the movie Ang Panday, the biggest Fernando Poe Jr. franchise, with four films no less, and where FPJ was always all of the following: lead star; producer; and director, under the name Ronwaldo Reyes.

(Ron is from FPJ'S real first name Ronald, Waldo is from a favorite book character, and Reyes is from the maiden name of his Lola Martha, the grandmother on his father's side.) 

FPJ tapped into his Ang Panday films to triumph at the box office in many a December Metro Manila Film Festival.

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In Coco's own Ang Panday, he is now also all of the following: lead star; co-producer, under his CCM Productions; and director, under his real name Rodel Nacianceno.

And with this movie, Coco is poised to become a major player in the high-stakes game that is the 2017 December Metro Manila Film Festival. 

Also, exactly like FPJ, Coco populates Ang Panday with kids. Already, Coco has cast child charmers Awra Briguela, Nayomi Ramos, and Onyok Pineda.

Coco is going with the FPJ formula.

PEP.ph—the Philippine Entertainment Portal—wagers that, unfolding before us now, is the new Coco Martin.

Coco is leaving behind his free and loose indie persona for the highly managed persona of an action star.

Gone are the days of small paychecks and dark stories; up ahead are grand schemes for mainstream blockbusters.

From baring body skin in low-budget but gritty movies that look like everything happens at night, Coco will now be playing the Everyman who, pushed to his limits and jacketed in denim, rains hell-fire on baddies in big-budget but formulaic movies that look like a new day is always dawning.

From being totally accessible, Coco will now be little seen in public places. As those in the know say: Did you ever see FPJ in public?

An action star is not like everybody else, we won't be seeing him shopping any time soon. True, he will play the Everyman—but, make no mistake, he is a man apart. He is also a man who will make all the decisions.

The King of Indie is transforming himself into the King of Action.

And that is why, in the ongoing FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, Coco Martin is the only star. 

DANIEL PADILLA AS MATINEE IDOL. La Luna Sangre looks like it is taking Daniel Padilla on a different path.

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From the start, Daniel is not the solo star of this fantasy-action-drama. He has an important female co-star in Kathryn Bernardo, who is actually billed ahead of him in the credits.

And why?

Kathyrn has, it must be said, nearly seven years' lead time on Daniel in showbiz: her first-big splash on prime-time TV was in 2003, as the young Bea Alonzo in It Might Be You, while Daniel's first-ever waves were made on Sunday-afternoon television in 2010, when he starred with Julia Montes in the youth-oriented GIMIK.

Add to this, the 22-year-old Daniel is still packaged as a matinee idol, not as the next action prince. (At least, not yet.) An action prince likes his name billed solo, above the title; a matinee idol needs a love interest, preferably one as attractive as himself, and it is fine to have them billed together, on a horizontal line on the marquee. 

The boy is, in fact, in a love team, with Kathryn, and the fans want them together forever. Many of his awards are for being in a love team. Two of these awards proclaim him "the biggest heartthrob" and "the most stylish." His movies and teleseryes are sweet romances with a bit of drama. He has 18 awards for his music.

Not at all the stuff of an action prince.

Of course, Daniel has to be a matinee idol. All those box-office rom-coms from Star Cinema will need an attractive male lead after John Lloyd Cruz moves on to his darker films.

PEP.ph also wagers that Star Cinema must already be thinking: This beats having to borrow a Viva Films star and having to share movie-production credits.

And Daniel—who can act, is popular, is handsome, only 22, easy on the charm yet has fire in the belly, who is grateful for his lot, respectful of his bosses, a Mama's boy, and faithful to his girl—is the perfect matinee star. 

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Daniel is not taking the path of Coco.

Which leads to why La Luna Sangre, even with its many many fight scenes, can be wrapped around not just Daniel, the male star, but also around Kathyrn, the female star.

PRIZED TV TIME. Upon both Daniel's La Luna Sangre and Coco's FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, there is no doubt that fortune has been smiling, a lot.

See how the network's programming bosses have given the two seryes the most precious of Monday to Friday evening time slots: Coco has 7:50-8:30 p.m.; Daniel follows at 8:30-9:15 p.m.

(Program schedules published on the Kapamilya network's time slots, in reality, are pushed upward by a few minutes here and there.)

Together, the two shows lord it over the weekday's advertising-rich evening viewing hours. 

But the truly important detail here, as comparisons go, is that Coco Martin is on first prime time, the most coveted of evening time slots; and Daniel Padilla is on second prime time, the next most coveted.

Which, however, now gives rise to a niggling question: Is it normal for a show on second prime time to be beating a show on first prime time?

Certainly, the Kapamilya network owns both, which makes all this a pretty good problem. 

But since the first prime-time show is the network's standard bearer, flag carrier, and final line of defense in the ratings war against any competing network, should the show not be lording it over the rankings even against shows within the network?

As it is, ABS-CBN does produce both Coco's and Daniel's highly publicized shows, but these shows are created by two different, highly competitive business units within the Kapamilya network: FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano is from Dreamscape Entertainment Television, headed by Deo Endrinal; La Luna Sangre is from Star Creatives Television, headed by Malou Santos.

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Adding to this divide, the two male stars are managed by different teams, both of which naturally want the best television exposure for their talents, in a business landscape where stars are far too plenty and air time far too limited.   

Coco's career is managed by Biboy Arboleda and Deo Endrinal, with close watch from Cory Vidanes, a big boss understandably taken by the high ratings logged by Coco's series.

Daniel's career, as well as Kathyrn's, is managed by Star Magic, the talent management arm of ABS-CBN headed by Johnny Manahan and Mariole Alberto, although it has become apparent that Malou Santos, also the big boss at the network's film arm, Star Cinema, is playing an active—and welcome—role in the TV-and-movie projects of the two young stars.

(Case in point: to get a pictorial schedule with Daniel and Kathyrn, one has to get past the calendar in Ms. Santos's hands.)

STRONG RECORD. FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano is poised to breach the two-year mark by September 28, 2015.

And because the management promise is that the series will go on until January 2018, this will give the show a record run of two years and four months.

It will not be the longest-running program on TV—soap operas like Gulong ng Palad ran a total of eight years; Mara Clara, five years; Flordeluna, five years on its first run, and another four on its revival—but it is a clear feat during these times.

For these are times when full TV seasons are pegged at just three months, and when shows have been axed in just weeks.

Within the Kapamilya network itself, the history of axed programs is bloody enough: Children's drama series Princess Sarah (2007), starring Sharlene San Pedro, axed after an unfortunate short six weeks; fantasy-action series Panday Book 1 (2005) and Panday Book 2 (2006), both starring Jericho Rosales and Heart Evangelista, axed after a disappointing six weeks and eight weeks, respectively; and musical-comedy-drama 1DOL (2010), starring Sarah Geronimo, Sam Milby, and Coco Martin, axed after a hasty seven weeks.

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So, it must be said: FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano is making new TV history.

GOOD PEDIGREE: La Luna Sangre is very young, but looks eager to do well.

The latest installment of a three-part Kapamilya franchise, it comes after Imortal (2010) starring John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin, which itself came after Lobo (2008) starring Piolo Pascual and Angel Locsin.

Both Imortal and Lobo did well in the ratings game, giving La Luna Sangre good bones.

Let's see what happens next.

PEP.ph lists at least six times Coco and Daniel went head to head in the TV ratings.

JUNE 26 AIRING. The La Luna Sangre episode on June 26, 2017 marks Daniel's first appearance in the series. 

His character, Tristan, is a jeepney driver with a positive disposition, cracking jokes and singing songs as early as the morning, endearing himself to passengers.

Here, the 22-year-old matinee idol's looks are well framed, and so are his action moves, such as when his character chases a thief through Quiapo and brawls with him and his cohorts in a deserted area.

The FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano episode of June 26, 2017 shows the soft side of Cardo, Coco's character, who is earning a living as a jeepney driver and attempting to settle into a quiet life with his wife and son.

Cardo's trademark fight scenes with various villains are missing in this episode. The contravidas, a group of rebels, are gearing up for the next episode's bomb explosion, which will kill Cardo’s little boy. 


On this airing date, La Luna Sangre and FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano register a tie in the TV ratings, based on AGB Nielsen NUTAM ratings.

La Luna Sangrevs. FPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
11.6%

June 26, 2017

11.6%TIE

Based on Kantar Media-TNS TV ratings, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano beats La Luna Sangre, with a 1.4 percent margin of difference.

La Luna Sangrevs. FPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
34.5%June 26, 201735.9%1.4%

JUNE 29 AIRING.  On June 29, La Luna Sangre marks a .3 percent increase in TV ratings over FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, based on AGB Nielsen NUTAM figures.

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La Luna Sangrevs. FPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
11.4%June 29, 201711.1%.3%

Based on Kantar Media-TNS figures, the June 29 FPJ's Ang Probinsyano episode is in the lead against La Luna Sangre, with a 2.8 percent margin of difference.

La Luna Sangrevs.FPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
35.1%June 29, 201737.9%2.8%

The cliffhanger where Tristan (Daniel) and Malia (Kathyrn) should cross paths for the first time probably thrills the fans of the reel and real-life sweethearts. 

Meantime, the June 29 episode of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano is a time for mourning for Cardo, who has lost his son Ricky in a bomb attack.



JULY 4 AIRING. In the July 4 episode of La Luna Sangre Tristan stumbles upon a secret group of vampire hunters called the "Moonchasers," as a result of his dogged online search for a means to avenge his father's death. Malia, on the other hand, is made to feel like an outcast by her clan of wolves and vampires when she fails to transform into the hero that can defeat Sandrino.

In the July 4 episode of FPJ's Ang Probinsiyano, Cardo discovers that a rebel group is behind the bomb attack that killed his son. He asks PNP-SAF Director Hipolito to reinstate him in the force to put a stop to the growing terror attacks in Manila.


La Luna Sangre and FPJ's Ang Probinsiyano tie in the TV ratings, according to AGB Nielsen NUTAM.

La Luna Sangrevs.FPJ's Ang ProbinsiyanoMargin of difference
11.5%July 4, 201711.5%TIE

According to Kantar Media-TNS, there is a 2.5 percent difference in percentage, but FPJ's Ang Probinsiyano is in the lead versus La Luna Sangre.

La Luna Sangrevs.FPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
35.9%July 4, 201738.4%2.5%

JULY 5 AIRING. Based on AGB Nielsen NUTAM numbers, the July 5 episodes register a .1 percent margin of difference, with La Luna Sangre in the lead against FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.

La Luna Sangrevs.FPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
10.8%July 5, 201710.7%.1%

Kantar Media-TNS figures say the July 5 episodes register a 1.6 percent margin of difference, but FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano is in the lead against La Luna Sangre.

La Luna Sangrevs.FPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
34%July 5, 201735.6%1.6%

In La Luna Sangre, Tristan has a vivid recollection of how his father dies in an encounter with evil vampires, which makes him use his life to hunt down vampires.

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In FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, Cardo decides to return to his true calling as a policeman, to get justice for his son’s death.


JULY 11 AIRING. In La Luna Sangre's July 11 episode, Tristan's sense of humor in scenes with his loved ones keeps the audience entertained, while the tenacity with which he pursues a vampire he suspects of killing his friend keeps the audience riveted.

Malia is still lost and alone in the forest, fearing for her life, and still uncertain about whether she is fated to transform into a vampire or a wolf.


In FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, Cardo is back with his Special Action Forces (SAF) troop, which is now in a town besieged by terrorists. But he remains haunted by the death of his son, who he sees in the face of a child caught in a clash.


La Luna Sangre outranks FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, with a .4 percent margin of difference, based on AGB Nielsen NUTAM ratings.

La Luna SangrevsFPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
11.5%July 11, 201711.1%.4%

Based on Kantar Media-TNS ratings, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano remains in the lead versus La Luna Sangre, with a 2.3 percent margin of difference.  

La Luna SangrevsFPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
35.2%July 11, 201737.5%2.3%

JULY 17 AIRING. In its July 17 episode, La Luna Sangre continues to enjoy high TV ratings, as Tristan goes on another mission with the Moonchasers, while Malia goes under the radar by disguising herself as a boy.


In FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, Cardo is captured after he penetrates a rebels’ camp on his own.


La Luna Sangre outranks FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano again, with a .3 percent margin of difference, based on ABG Nielsen NUTAM ratings.

La Luna Sangrevs.FPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
11.5%July 17, 201711.2%.3%

But Kantar Media-TNS ratings put FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano still in the lead vs. La Luna Sangre, with a 1.8 percent margin of difference.

La Luna Sangrevs.FPJ's Ang ProbinsyanoMargin of difference
36%July 17, 201737.8%1.8%

With reports and research by Rachelle Siazon


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