SBS Upfront 2023: Media buyers share their thoughts on the broadcaster’s offerings

SBS upfront 2023 - agency commentary

The broadcaster revealed its investment in content, a new automation platform, rebrands and partnerships

SBS Upfront 2023 saw a raft of impressive and exciting new announcements in content offerings and investment opportunities this week.

The broadcaster revealed its investment in content, a new automation platform, revamp rebrands and partnerships.

Media leaders from across the industry shared their thoughts with Mediaweek about the SBS’ highlights, what the announcements bring to the table and what it means for their ad spend.

Lucie Jansen, Spark Foundry’s chief investment officer, recalled managing director James Taylor’s message: “the Australia you see when you walk out your door each morning is what you see in everything we do at SBS”.

Jansen said that message featured throughout the presentation and that they have long championed important topics such as representation and sustainability. 

“Their strategy to ‘invest in good’ continues to provide multilingual news coverage and commits to the production and distribution of local content. This is highly commendable and will undoubtedly attract agencies and clients alike who are looking to align their media investment with values around inclusion and sustainability,” she said.

Lucie Jansen

Jansen noted the impressive new programming – including original dramas, documentaries and shows such as Alone Australia, which will see 10 Australians dropped into the Tasmanian wilderness and compete for $250,000. A program she described as the broadcaster’s most ambitious one to date.

In addition to local content, the broadcaster also announced curated content from around the world, including Asking For It, which explores consent, and Who the Bloody Hell are We, which looks at multicultural Australia.

Jansen also pointed out SBS’s sports coverage, including the upcoming FIFA World Cup and the long-standing coverage of the Tour De France and Tour De France Femme until 2030

According to Jansen, SBS reflected on its successes so far, including its On Demand platform, which holds an impressive share of BVOD audiences.

SBS’s FIFA World Cup team

“They talked about the fourfold growth in revenue and awareness they have achieved on NITV since the launch of “Beyond 3%” 18 months ago,” she said.

Jansen noted that SBS has influenced major advertisers to advertise with First Nations media. She said: “This revenue has gone back into NITV to finance content and services, and this has undoubtedly aided the growth in audiences they have seen.

Jansen added that SBS also highlighted the success of its brand partnerships divisions, which it has now rebranded to SBS CulturalConnect.

“This is an offering that will bring these initiatives together and add consultancy expertise in a holistic approach tailored to a client’s solutions,” she added.

SBS CulturalConnect

For Kimberly Stafford, business director of Identity Communications, the biggest selling point from her perspective was SBS’s continued commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

“They are driving the agenda for underrepresented communities, from the programmes they air across TV and radio, to the talent included within the shows, the storytellers and production crew, and even those presenting at the Upfronts.

“SBS’s content releases shown in their upfronts is a true representation of the cultural issues that are faced in the world today,” she added.

In terms of what would move the needle on advertising spend with SBS, Stafford noted the influence of content and its accessibility to communities.

“Their approach to original and new content within BVOD will only attract more growth onto their platform and will naturally see advertisers increase spends into SBS,” she said.

Kimberly Stafford

Stafford also noted NITV’s Beyond 3% Initiative, which she said will continue to show growth and the importance of marketing to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences across Australia.

“With that, the positive impact to brand love and sales advertising to these communities can have,” she added.

Nick Noel, UM’s senior partnerships manager, noted a shift to attract younger audiences in SBS’s investment in primetime content.

“Mixing tried and tested overseas drama formats with forward-thinking Australian-made content across drama, reality, and documentary, SBS is primed to tap into the rising tide of consumerism that asks for more than shows about renos and dating,” he said.

Noel noted that SBS’s announcements make the broadcaster more attractive as a holistic media solution.

Nick Noel

“The natural evolution of classic SBS Radio to a full SBS Audio offering, along with the market leadership of SBS OnDemand as a BVOD player, shows that SBS as a publisher understands the fragmentation of the media landscape,” he said.

“SBS offers a highly specialised audience across mainstream, First Nations, and CALD audiences.

“With this year’s offerings, SBS has created the opportunity to move beyond the media budget share we typically set aside and into what should be considered an integral media channel for campaigns,” Noel added.

SBS Audio

Sarah Keith, Involved Media’s group managing director, noted that SBS reminded Upfront attendees of their 10.4% audience share with 26% BOVD minutes “that has driven a significantly over-forecast revenue number.”

She noted that the broadcaster’s schedule and programming strongly indicated how SBS intends to maintain and grow those numbers across their platform.

Keith said of the programs: “Key new Aussie content standouts are Alone Australia set in Tasmania, the dramedy While the Men are Away, the anthology series Erotic Stories, the thriller Safe Home and the reality program Big School Swap.”

Sarah Keith

Sarah Keith

“The perennial favourites of football and food are key audience pillars for SBS, with the FIFA World Cup in November and new food shows with Adam Liaw, Luke Nguyen, Khanh Ong and Poh Ling Yeow in 2023,” she added.

Keith also highlighted new content deals with Beta Film and Viaplay would drive the quality of BVOD service and deliver more content like a premium SVOD service with low ad loads and depth of content.

“This is to be further enhanced with Adobe’s Real-Time Customer Data Platform to ensure consumers receive relevant advertising, a new Solus spot (giving a brand-exclusive ad spot within an ad break) and shoppable formats in partnership with Kerv Interactive,” she said.

Adam and Poh’s Great Bites

With NITV marking its 10th birthday, SBS shared a preview of a new 10-episode family and children’s series, Barrumbi Kids, starring Justine Clarke and featuring a star-studded cast, which Keith noted has the makings of an Australian classic.

Keith also noted that in addition to the new content, SBS provided attendees of the Upfront lunch with a complete and detailed rundown of rebrands such as SBS Radio to SBS Audio, SBS’s brand partnership arm to SBS CulturalConnect, as well as its boosted international news line-up.

“With the key messages of culture, community and country woven through the entire presentation, SBS are confident about delivering commercially attractive content while remaining true to their charter,” Keith concluded.

Top image: Lucie Jansen, Kimberly Stafford, Nick Noel and Sarah Keith

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