“A moment in history”: How SBS is making the most of the World Cup

Plus: Adam Sadler on the movement of audiences towards BVOD

There are not a lot of things that huge crowds will willingly be up at 2am for in Australia, but the FIFA World Cup has proven that a Socceroos match is definitely one of them. As the Australian team continues their run by advancing to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2006 (where they’ll take on Lionel Messi’s Argentina), SBS has been bringing people every minute of the action.

See Also: FIFA World Cup 2022 SBS TV ratings: Every match for every team in Qatar

With soccer fans driving a massive spike in traffic for the network, Mediaweek spoke to SBS director – media sales, Adam Sadler, about the network’s greatest ever digital reach, and how they’re making the most of the numbers.

fifa world cup

Adam Sadler

SBS is now recording an average of  900,000 daily active users across the platform, and SBS On Demand now has over 12 million logged in registered users – just shy of half the country’s population. 

“From a BVOD point of view, we’re running around 50% of the linear consumption, which is something that the Australian market has never, ever seen before,” says Sadler. “Linear consumption is sitting at around 27 million hours, and total BVOD consumption is sitting at over 13 million hours. 

“SBS On Demand is the top ranked app in the New & Trending and Entertainment categories on the Apple Store. It’s ranking higher than all the SVOD services, BVOD services, and social media services – I believe we’re ahead of TikTok.”

At the time of writing, those numbers peaked when the Socceroos took on Tunisia to win by a goal. SBS are reporting that just over 1.76 million people tuned in, a number that Sadler says will lift when considering BVOD and out of home. 

“Think about all the live sites that are going on around Australia – when we see Federation Square and the diversity of people down there, football was really unified. It’s been amazing to see people of all cultures come together and really get behind the Socceroos, and we’ve never seen such a diverse Socceroos team either. 

“This Sunday at 6am is going to be huge, not just for SBS but for all Australians, when we match up against Argentina.”


Forecasts about viewership for the FIFA World Cup are based on precedent – in this case, the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Sadler says that the way that audiences have evolved since then amounts to “a seismic shift” in the way Australians consume content. 

“We’ve been talking about this for many years, but I must say, this has been a tipping point. From the start of this World Cup we’ve seen a significant shift to connected TV, and to screens – be that laptops or iPads.”

So how will SBS be making the most of the huge numbers that the World Cup has resulted in? Sadler says that the bottom line is delivering the best user experience and the best advertising experience for viewers and clients alike.

“When it comes to investment, there is a balancing act: ensuring that all of our sponsors, our packages, and our advertisers share a voice across not just linear broadcast, but also across our BVOD broadcast, and ensuring that we deliver the audiences and the investment that we’d promised our advertisers. 

“The way in which we deliver that will definitely change. This is a moment in history for us, where we’ll start to see that investment shift to more BVOD.”

Looking ahead, Sadler says that the team at SBS will be using the momentum of the World Cup to come out swinging in 2023.

“It’s a critical time of the year, going to 2023 with our Upfront. This provides a great platform for SBS to be promoting some of the great content that’s coming to our network in 2023 – whether it’s Alone, Rogue Heroes, Tokyo Vice, or War of the Worlds  – which we expect will hold on to those audiences. 

It’s not just about bringing in these bandwagon supporters, it’s about retaining them as well. I think we’ve got a great strategy with our promos and our user experience to hold on to a lot of these audiences moving forward into 2023.”

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